In an exclusive interview with China Media Group (CMG), Wickremasinghe said that with the third Belt and Road Forum fast approaching, he expects meaningful exchanges on navigating today’s difficulties, including the debt burden on low- and middle-income countries and climate change issues. With many countries facing hardships, the president stressed that collective solutions will be the key.

In an exclusive interview with China Media Group (CMG), Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said, “We do what is good for us and stop doing what isn’t. We can benefit from cooperation with China.

Indeed, if we could join the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), we would have access to the world’s largest market. We once hoped to establish the South Asian Free Trade Area, but it failed to materialise,”, he said.

Furthermore, Wickremesinghe emphasised that joining the RCEP is feasible for Sri Lanka because the island nation has close ties with RCEP members.

“Sri Lanka shares deep cultural ties with not only China but also Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia”, the President said, adding that “to further expand cooperation with China, Japan, South Korea, and Australia, we need to strengthen our economic competitiveness”.

“We are willing to work towards this end, because joining the RCEP would mean competing in the global market as China did.”

“We hope to explore markets and attract investment in more regions”, Wickremesinghe added.

Meanwhile, the President, who expressed that in fact, Sri Lanka’s trade policies have been established gradually over the past 20 to 25 years, whereby the country has removed many barriers to trade with other countries, highlighted that the island nation is benefiting from the fact that free trade has made it easier for the international movement of goods and the flow of capital.

“It’s beneficial for both Sri Lanka and Asia, as it offers development opportunities.”