Senior U.S. government representatives were in Sri Lanka looking for ways to assist the country in coping with an unprecedented economic crisis and acute shortages of necessities as the energy minister issued a delay warning for new fuel imports.
The South Asian island nation has been surviving off of $4 billion in credit lines from its neighbouring India until the U.S. provided millions of dollars in help during the previous two weeks. Additionally, the World Bank has pledged between $300 million and $600 million for the purchase of medicines and other supplies.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe declared last week that the economy had ‘collapsed’ as a result of declining foreign exchange reserves and increasing debt, which were made worse by the pandemic and other longer-term issues.
The U.S. delegation was led by Robert Kaproth, deputy assistant secretary of Treasury for Asia, and Kelly Keiderling, deputy assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia.
They are meeting with a variety of political figures, economists, and representatives of international organisations during their four-day visit to ‘explore the most effective ways for the U.S. to support Sri Lankans in need, Sri Lankans working to resolve the current economic crisis, and Sri Lankans planning for a sustainable and inclusive economy for the future’, as per a statement from the U.S. Embassy.
‘This visit underscores our ongoing commitment to the security and prosperity of the Sri Lankan people’, said Julie Chung, U.S. ambassador to Sri Lanka.
The U.S. has announced $120 million in fresh finance for small and medium-sized enterprises, a $27 million investment to Sri Lanka’s dairy industry, and $5.75 million in humanitarian aid to support those who are most negatively impacted by the economic crisis. Additional funds totaling $6 million have been pledged for livelihoods and technical support for financial reform.