President Ranil Wickremesinghe revealed Sri Lanka’s intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is poised to materialise following the conclusion of credit optimisation initiatives.

Additionally, the President announced plans to initiate negotiations for the establishment of free trade agreements with corresponding ASEAN member countries.

President Wickremesinghe also emphasised the country’s determination to bolster its economic connectivity within the broader Asian region.

The President affirmed his alignment with the future vision of ASEAN for the Indo-Pacific area, pledging full support for the advancement of this strategic perspective.

The President reaffirmed the nation’s readiness to engage actively in regional economic partnerships to realise its economic ambitions.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe made these remarks while addressing the 56th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Tuesday, August 8, at the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia, Colombo.

The President reflected on Sri Lanka’s economic history and the decisions that had impacted the nation’s progress. He acknowledged the efforts of former President J. R. Jayawardena, his father, and other influential figures who advocated for opening up the economy and joining ASEAN during its founding years, as well as the Shenoy reforms for liberalisation of the economy and to ensure the welfare programme stayed within the needs. The President remarked that turning down the opportunity to join ASEAN led to a period of socialist economic policies and limited capital formation, hindering the country’s growth potential.