New British HC hails new chapter in bilateral ties, trade and investment

Incoming British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, James Dauris, yesterday expressed optimism over the potential for improved trade and investment between the two nations.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Council for Business with Britain - his first official engagement since taking up his post in Sri Lanka – Dauris acknowledged the strained relationship between the two countries in recent times but reiterated the need to bridge such gaps and work towards mutual prosperity.

"I feel that I'm quite fortunate to be posted to Sri Lanka at a time which is filled with opportunity. It's no secret that our relationship has been difficult in recent times despite continued trade and investment from British companies. But I believe that this is the beginning of a new chapter and I hope to develop this potential moving forward," Dauris enthused.

In that context, Dauris praised Maithripala Sirisena’s recent state visit to the United Kingdom as a welcome step towards greater normalisation of diplomatic relations.

Noting that the trade balance between the United Kingdom and Sri Lanka held a distinct bias towards Sri Lanka, Dauris expressed hope that British companies would help to balance out trade by establishing their products and services in Sri Lanka to a greater extent moving forward.

"From an economic perspective as well this is a good time to be ambitious about the potential to develop trade. The Sri Lankan economy continues to record strong growth and the British economy too appears to be improving, with GDP growth recently hitting 2.6% and employment reaching the highest level among G7 nations," he stated.

Dauris noted that the many similarities in culture, education, trade, investment and law, in addition to the sizeable Sri Lanka diaspora residing in the United Kingdom, served to further enhance the potential for improved trade between the two nations.

"Both England and Sri Lanka are island nations and this means we have had to be outward-facing in our economies in order to generate greater opportunity," he added.

Concluding his remarks, Dauris expressed excitement over the outlook for Sri Lanka-UK ties and pledged to support more British companies to make inroads into the Sri Lankan market while extending support to domestic companies to explore opportunities in the United Kingdom as well.

Holding over 20 years of experience in the British Foreign Service, Dauris has previously served as Ambassador to Peru prior to which he worked as Deputy Head of Mission in Bogota, Colombia. He also served as Deputy Head and later Acting Head of the South Asia Group in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London and as Deputy Head of the EU External Department and as Head of the Commercial Section in Moscow. Dauris is a qualified solicitor and a graduate of the University of Cambridge.