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France and Sri Lanka

Political relations

The French and Sri Lankan authorities hold regular dialogue on political and economic issues.

The former President Chandrika Kumaratunga, who speaks French, was received by the President of the Republic in October 2005. The French Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Sri Lanka in April 2009 with his British counterpart, and he met the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs, G.L. Peiris, in New York in September 2009.

In October 2011, the Sri Lankan Minister of Foreign Affairs, G.L. Peiris, was received by his counterpart in Paris. In November 2011, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, made an official visit to France, where he met his counterpart as well as the Chair of the Paris Chamber of Commerce and several companies. In October 2012, Neomal Perera, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, met with the Head of the Private Office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Paris.

More information on the website of the French Embassy in Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

Economic relations

Bilateral trade reached €1.2 billion in 2015. This is a historical trade surplus due to the delivery of three Airbus A330-300 to SriLankan Airlines. The European Commission’s embargo on Sri Lankan fishery products which was imposed in January 2015 had an impact on imports from Sri Lanka, which fell by 7.3 %. Textiles remain France’s leading import sector from Sri Lanka, accounting for 61.4% of total imports.

Exports to Sri Lanka account for 0.24 % of France’s total exports, making France its 51st largest supplier, while Sri Lanka is France’s 68th largest supplier with 0.02% of total French imports. Furthermore, 86,000 French people visited Sri Lanka in 2015.

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Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France is closely cooperating with Sri Lanka on development projects, focusing in particular on rebuilding infrastructure in regions hit by civil war. In 2005, the French Development Agency (AFD) contributed €89 million as part of the Tsunami Facility. In June 2011, the AFD’s Strategic Orientation Board (COS) added Sri Lanka to the countries which come under the mandate to promote “green and inclusive growth” (CVS). Under this initiative, the AFD funded projects in Jaffna worth €35 million.

In the cultural arena, four Alliances françaises are located on the island; the Alliance in Kotte, a suburb of Colombo, succeeded the original Colombo Alliance in 2010. The remaining Alliances françaises are in Kandy (central Sri Lanka), Matara/Galle (south) and Jaffna (north).

The Alliances française network is a special partner for organizing major annual events celebrating French culture such as the Fête de la Francophonie and Printemps français.

After English, French is the most widely-taught European language in Sri Lankan secondary schools, with 150 teachers and 11,000 students.

Updated: 12 April 2016