“Just as East Asia, including countries like Japan, Korea and China, witnessed significant growth 75 years ago, it is now India’s turn, along with the Indian Ocean region,” Wickremesinghe, who also holds the finance portfolio, told the Indian CEO Forum in Colombo.
The comment comes days after Sri Lanka decided to formally include the Indian rupee as a designated foreign currency, a move the RBI said, augurs well for “incremental internationalisation” for the Indian currency. Sri Lanka had designated at least 15 designated foreign currencies, including the US dollar, Chinese renminbi, euro, yen and Swiss Franc.
The rupee was included on the list after New Delhi backed Sri Lanka’s rescue package by the International Monetary Fund. The latest statement from Wickremesinghe also signals a deeper engagement with India after years of close relations with China, which ramped up investment and funding in the island.
Wickremesinghe is expected to visit New Delhi next week, his first since becoming president a year ago amidst unprecedented economic and political turmoil in the island nation. His comments were in response to the chair of the Forum, T S Prakash, who in his address had called for the enhanced use of the Indian rupee in the Sri Lankan economy.
“It makes no difference to us if India (the Indian rupee) becomes a common currency. We will have to figure out how to go about it. We must become more open to the outside world,” Wickremesinghe said. “The world is evolving and India is undergoing rapid development, particularly under PM Modi’s leadership”, he added. He also said that Sri Lanka benefits from its proximity to India, coupled with a rich history, cultural heritage and longstanding trading relationships, The Daily Mirror newspaper quoted him as saying.
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