Remarks by H.E. Poldej Worachat to the Thailand - Sri Lanka Business Forum Saturday 2 June, 2012

Remarks by H.E. Poldej Worachat to the Thailand - Sri Lanka Business Forum Saturday 2 June, 2012

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Remarks by H.E. Poldej Worachatr
to the Thailand - Sri Lanka Business Forum
Saturday 2 June, 2012

Your Excellency President Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

                     It is my privilege to be invited to address this business forum.   I wish to thank the Embassy of Sri Lanka and the Thai - Sri Lanka Chamber of Commerce for the kind invitation.

                    Our two countries share close relationship - indeed, a special friendship which predates establishment of formal diplomatic relations in 1955.   From childhood, we have heard about the mythical island of ‘Lanka’ the city of Totsakan -- or which you call “Ravanna” -- through the the Ramayana.   As we become older, we offer the same prayers to the Lord Buddha.

                    So for the Thai people, Sri Lanka holds a special affinity.   The Thai government is committed further strengthening our historical ties in all areas, as part of our “Look West” policy.

                    Your Excellency’s visit to Thailand therefore comes at the most opportune time in our relations.

                    Last year, the Thai Government received an overwhelming democratic mandate, and one of the key foreign policy objectives of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra’s government is to strengthen our partnership and cooperation with regional friends, including Sri Lanka.

                    At the same time, we are aware that Sri Lanka is recovering from years of terrorism and has embarked on a programme of reconstruction and revitalization of the country’s economy.   

                    We therefore believe that this is an excellent time to strengthen trade and investment relations.

                    As Prime Minister Yingluck mentioned to Your Excellency on Wednesday, Thailand is keen to participate in construction and infrastructure development in Sri Lanka.  For example, one of our biggest companies, Italian - Thai Development Company, has undertaken large scale projects to build subways, airports, dams, and highways in many countries in the region.  I believe such Thai companies can offer their expertise for the benefit of Sri Lanka’s economic development. 

                    Secondly, the tourism and hospitality industry is an area where Thailand can share our expertise.   Several Thai hotel and resort companies are looking for opportunities to expand to neighbouring regions.   I am confident that Sri Lanka has the potential to be one of the world’s most attractive tourist destinations, with its unspoilt beaches and vibrant culture.    Indeed Prime Minister Yingluck mentioned the possibility of jointly promoting our two countries as a ‘Combined Destination’.  In addition, we would like to promote the peoples of our two countries to visit each other more often, to understand each other better.

                    Thirdly, Sri Lankan business community should seize opportunity to enhance presence in Thailand.    Thailand will be a part of the ASEAN Community in 2015 - a single market for goods and services of 600 million people.    We are a natural gateway for Sri Lanka into mainland Southeast Asia.   The Thai government emphasizes the importance of focusing on connectivity within ASEAN and with its regional friends.   This means that we can work together on developing and enhancing air, sea, land linkages between our two countries.

                    Finally, Prime Minister Yingluck has also emphasized the importance of business to business exchanges, and urged the Thai and Sri Lankan business communities to work together and exchange visits regularly.    I will follow up on this with the relevant ministries and agencies.

                    Before I conclude, May I reiterate that as Ambassador of Thailand to Sri Lanka, I will be your partner and advisor for both the Thai and Sri Lankan business communities.


                    Thank you for your attention.