Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena leading the Sri Lanka delegation to the 20th Virtual Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in the
sidelines of the 75 UN General Assembly on Wednesday, called for innovative thinking, collective and integrated strategies to address the multidimensional and cross cutting challenges in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighting that e-commerce and e-governance would define the competitive edge of countries in the post COVID-19 world, Minister Gunawardena called for assistance to advance digitalization of economies and services within Commonwealth member states. He cited Sri Lanka’s experience of conducting the first ever tea and rubber auctions via a digital platform, while the country also remained the first in South Asia to adopt international standards for digital transactions. He also proposed mobilizing existing scientific and technical expertise and knowledge in the Commonwealth towards ongoing research related to COVID-19. In this regard, the Foreign Minister highlighted the partnership between the University of Sri Jayawardenapura of Sri Lanka and Oxford University in sharing expertise and knowledge acquired in immune responses in individuals to dengue infection, to understand immune responses to COVID-19 infections.
Minister Gunawardena noting the unprecedented and adverse economic and social impact induced by the crisis on countries underlined the urgent need for debt relief, loan repayment moratoriums and financial stimulus to ease current difficulties.