U.S. Ambassador Alaina B. Teplitz said the United States provided a great deal of assistance to Sri Lanka in view of COVID-19 last year – US $7.6 million in direct support and 200 ventilators that were provided last year, in 2020.
During a recent media round table discussion on the economic relations between the two countries, she said the pandemic had shifted things dramatically.
“We have a pre-COVID and a post-COVID world to look at. But what is continuous as we consider our context, of course, is the strong economic relationship between Sri Lanka and the United States. In fact, there’s a trade imbalance in Sri Lanka’s favour with the U.S. that continues to make the United States Sri Lanka’s largest export market. Over the last decade or so there’s been an almost ten-fold shift. It’s a pretty impressive number. I’m pleased to say there are Sri Lankan companies that invest in the United States and there’s a little bit of importation here that rounds things out.
First, we obviously have a development partnership with Sri Lanka that has economic dimensions. I just want to say a few words about that in the COVID context because it’s important as we think about what we’re going to do heading forward into the future.
This support was meant for immediate response so we supported the WHO and we supported UNICEF and their public health interventions in support of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Health.
We also re-directed some of our programming, because we knew there would be longer term consequences beyond these immediate needs. We were looking specifically at the economic aspects of this and we have thought a lot about how to support businesses getting back on their feet, or frankly, entrepreneurs who are just trying to get started in an environment that has been constrained by the tremendous downturn of the pandemic,” she said. (Kelum Bandara)