President Maithripala Sirisena’s speech at the Opening Plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2015, Boao, Hainan Province, China, March 28, 2015.
Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, Honourable Yasuo Fukuda, Chairman, Boao Forum for Asia, Mr Zhou, Wenzhong, Secretary-General Boao Forum for Asia, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
It gives me great pleasure to participate in this August assembly, which brings together world leaders as well as the global business community upon a common platform for a constructive and mutually beneficial dialog. Such a meeting is most appropriate in the context of achieving our collective goal of prosperity and development for the people of Asia. Today Asian enterprise is a key driver in global economic development as Asian economies continues to grow they have also become more complex and more integrated with each other and with the rest of the world. The theme of this year’s forum Asia’s New Future: Towards a Community of Common Destiny is relevant and timely. The wealth of Asia is measured in GDP per capita terms differs wildly among and within stages even as Asia has the majority of the world’s population accounting for nearly sixty percent of the estimated 7.2 billion, it is also home to majority of the world’s poor.
The rising prosperity many of our Asian countries is evident in the high consumption and high expenditure. There is an ever-growing disparity among the people. In my address to the nation last month, on the national day, I highlighted this issue and made a sincere promise to reduce the income gap and eliminate poverty as a key objective of my government.
Excellences, ladies and gentlemen
There remains a notable disparity in the decree of intra-regional integration. This calls for a new thinking on Asian growth strategy and more cooperative partnership among the community of Asia. Simplified trade and reducing non-tariff barriers is vital in order to enhance connectivity.
The Asian region is also still largely dependent on extra-regional markets for its final exports and lacks significant counterparts within the region. In such a scenario, how do we achieve a community of common destiny for Asia? The answers needs developing appropriate public policies, strategies to respond to these challenges while taking into consideration the specific differences in respective countries. Sri Lanka is committed to such cooperation and collective action within the community of Asian nations. The people of Sri Lanka on the 8th of January gave me an overwhelming mandate to take the country on a path of progress, as nation welcoming a new dawn of democracy, good governance, the rule of law and equal opportunities for all.
Toward this end, my government is implementing ambitious hundred day programme, inclusion of constitutional reforms to usher in a new political culture, as well as achieving lasting national reconciliation among all communities.
Sri Lanka as a maritime nation with natural ecological advantages will work in tandem with friendly countries to maintain cooperation in the maritime age. Sri Lanka is currently identified as a country with relatively high growth among emerging market economies. The country’s growth in per capita terms in recent years is comparable to middle income economy levels. We are hopeful that our FTA with China, currently under negotiations, will provide further inputs for value addition and economic cooperation in the region.
Our inbound tourism from China has increased significantly, and Asian countries rank among the top investors in Sri Lanka.
This important forum can play a significant role to achieve our collective vision of an Asian community of common destiny.
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to convey my best wishes for a successful and productive outcome for the Boao Forum for Asia 2015.