France and Sri Lanka

Bilateral relations

The Sri Lankan and French authorities maintain regular dialogue on political and economic issues. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, visited Paris in June 2016 where he was received by his counterpart as well as by the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad, and the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie. The Minister of State for Commerce, Small-Scale Industry, Consumer Affairs and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Martine Pinville, visited Colombo in November 2016 where she was received by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Tourism.

Bilateral exchanges reached €487 million in 2017, up on 2016 (with a reduction in France’s trade deficit). The European Commission’s embargo on Sri Lankan fish products which has been imposed since January 2015, was suspended in June 2017 and should see an increase in imports in this field. France’s leading import remains the textile and clothing sector with nearly 59% of total imports.

France maintains dynamic cooperation with Sri Lanka for development with a key aim being to rebuild the infrastructures in regions affected by the civil war. In 2005, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) committed €89 million to rebuilding infrastructures damaged by the December 2004 tsunami. Since 2010, the AFD has been working in Sri Lanka under a mandate to promote green and inclusive growth in the sectors of water and sanitation, energy and urban development. These commitments total €360 million.

The network of four Alliance Française branches on the island (in Kotte in the Colombo suburbs, in Kandy in the central region, in Matara/Galle in the south and in Jaffna in the north) is a special partnership for major annual events celebrating French culture: Fête de la francophonie and “French Spring”. French is the leading European language taught at secondary level after English in Sri Lanka, 150 teachers teach French to 11,000 students.

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Updated: 14.06.2018