Policy & History

U.S.-Sri Lanka Relations

Relations between the United States and Sri Lanka are based on mutual interests and a shared commitment to the ideals of democratic governance. U.S. policy toward Sri Lanka is characterized by respect for its independence, sovereignty, and moderate nonaligned foreign policy; support for the country’s unity, territorial integrity, and democratic institutions; and encouragement of its social and economic development. The United States is a strong supporter of ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka following the end of decades of civil conflict in 2009. Since the January 2015 change in government in Sri Lanka, Secretary John Kerry, Under Secretary for Political Affairs Thomas Shannon, and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power have visited Sri Lanka, and Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister has twice visited Washington, DC. In February 2016 the two countries held the inaugural U.S.-Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue in Washington, DC.

U.S. Assistance to Sri Lanka

The United States has delivered more than $2 billion in development assistance to Sri Lanka since its independence in 1948. Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States seeks to broaden and accelerate economic growth, develop democratic institutions, and promote the reconciliation of multi-ethnic and religious communities in Sri Lanka. The January 2015 Sri Lankan presidential election ushered in a new political era and opportunity for renewed U.S. diplomatic and development engagement to support the country’s ongoing reforms. During his May 2015 visit to Sri Lanka, Secretary Kerry announced $40 million in U.S. assistance to support Sri Lanka in implementing comprehensive reforms in areas including reconciliation, livelihoods, democratic governance, rule of law, public financial management, trade policy and facilitation, alternative dispute resolution, intellectual property rights protection, and ports and tourism management.

Bilateral Economic Relations

U.S. goods exports in 2015 were $372 million, up 4.7 percent from the previous year. U.S. exports consisted primarily of industrial machinery, medical instruments, aircraft parts, lentils, paper, specialized fabrics and textiles for use in the garment industry, fruits, and pharmaceuticals. Sri Lanka is currently the 115th largest export market for U.S. goods. Corresponding U.S. imports from Sri Lanka were $2.88 billion, up 7.8 percent. The next round of U.S.-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement talks will be held in April 2016 in Washington, DC.