Hon. Dr. Bandula Gunawardena, Minister of Trade, along with Hon. Prasanna Ranathunga, Minister of Tourism, had a virtual meeting with all the Commercial Officers serving in Sri Lank Missions Abroad on 26th October 2021 to discuss the ways and means to promote Sri Lanka’s Commercial interest and tourism in the respective host and accredited countries.

During the meeting, both the Ministers emphasized the importance of bringing down more affluent tourists to Sri Lanka in the process of country’s economic recovery of post Covid-19 pandemic. The discussion focused on specific issues that hinder the tourist arrivals and ways to address those issues in each host country. Also, the Hon. Ministers gave specific directives to Commercial Officials on activities to be taken to attract tourists to Sri Lanka from their accredited countries. The Commercial Officials briefed the Hon. Ministers on the emerging post pandemic developments of the respective markets to design country specific promotional programmes by SLTDA and SLTPB to attract more to sustain the post pandemic economy.

Officials of the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Ministry of Trade and the Department of Commerce also attended the meeting and shared the information on current emerging new situations on developments of tourism in Sri Lanka.

At the end, Hon. Ministers also requested, the new officers before going to take over their duties in Missions abroad they need to discuss with them their immediate post pandemic plan of actions in consultation with exporters and related line Government agencies in a similar kind of virtual meetings arranged by the Ministry and which will be followed by him periodically.


The 15th Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development – UNCTAD 15 –concluded on 7th October 2021, with an outcome that seeks to address the most pressing trade and developmental needs facing developing countries. The organization’s 195 member states have agreed on the actions needed to urgently support developing countries as they grapple with unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines, a debt crisis, the climate emergency and other unprecedented challenges.


The week-long quadrennial Ministerial Conferenceheld in hybrid format due to the prevalent epidemic situation was co-hosted by the Government of Barbados and the UNCTAD Secretariat in Geneva. The Conference featured a series of high-level events, pre-events and forums in the presence of global leaders and renowned experts in numerous fields.


Minister Bandula Gunewardhane led Sri Lanka delegation to the UNCTAD-15. Addressing the gathering virtually, Minister Gunewardhane stressed the pressing need of new generation of International Support Measures (ISMs) for countries like us that are profoundly vulnerable. Minister also emphasized the common challenges experienced by the global south, for instance, the escalating debt crisis, heavy commodity dependence, natural and man-made disasters, food insecurity, shortages of basic services and infrastructure among others.


While flagging that small economies among the global south are highly marginalized in the international policy setting, Minister Gunewardhane indicated that they have inherent issues such as lack of product diversification, lack of economies of scale, inability to attract productive investment, difficulties in improving domestic productive capacity and competitiveness in the international context. In this context, Minister Gunewardhane underscored the need of drawing special attention and adopting new ISMs to maintain a sustained economic growth for these marginalized economies. Minister calls for new international mechanism to address debt crisis of the global south, worsened with the global pandemic, and an independent international mechanism to evaluate the damage caused by devastating maritime incidents on the economies and ecosystems of developing countries.


Minister also led Sri Lanka delegation to the Ministerial session of the Group of 77, the largest coalition of developing countries within the UN, held prior to UNCTAD 15 Conference on 1st October, to finalize and adopt the “Bridgetown Ministerial Declaration of the Group of 77 and China on the occasion of UNCTAD-15”. The country’s priorities at a time of a global pandemic, were incorporated into the Bridgetown Declaration and reiterated through the oral statement.


Secretary to the Ministry of Trade, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury, Acting Director General of Commerce, H.E. the Ambassador and the Permanent Representatives of Sri Lanka to the UN and WTO and their staff members, representatives from Foreign Ministry, Environment Ministry and Central Bank of Sri Lanka were the other members of the Sri Lanka delegation.

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