Canada - Sri Lanka Relations

Canada - Sri Lanka Relations

Bilateral Relationship

Canada and Sri Lanka have a long-standing bilateral partnership based on shared participation in the Commonwealth and multilateral fora, a long-standing development assistance program, cooperation to counter illegal movement of people and goods, a modest but growing economic relationship and a vibrant community of Canadians of Sri Lankan origin. Canadian interest in Sri Lanka is also driven by a foreign policy commitment to the principles of freedom of expression, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

In Sri Lanka, Canada is represented by the Canadian High Commission in Colombo. Sri Lanka is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa as well as consulates in Montréal, Toronto, and Vancouver.

Trade and Investment

Canada’s commercial relationship with Sri Lanka is modest but growing. In 2017, total merchandise trade between Canada and Sri Lanka was $579 million. Canadian merchandise exports to Sri Lanka were $208 million that year. In 2016, Canada established an important share (53%) of the Sri Lankan merchandise import market for wheat ($161.6 million), as well as other agriculture commodities. Canadian merchandise imports from Sri Lanka reached $371 million in 2017; woven and knit garments make up 58% of all imports.

Canadian companies will find a concentration of business opportunities in agriculture, education, cleantech and infrastructure. There are also niche opportunities in the aviation and transportation sectors.  

There is growing demand for quality Canadian higher education. At the end of 2017, 820 Sri Lankans held a Canadian study permit, up from 675 the year prior.

Canadian direct investment in Sri Lanka (stocks) reached $21 million in 2016.

People-to-People

Strong people-to-people ties exist between the two countries. Canada is home to approximately 200,000 individuals of Sri Lankan descent, living primarily in the Greater Toronto area; the majority of Tamil origin. Canada's Sri Lankan Tamil populationis thought to constitute the largest such diaspora in the world outside of India.   

On December 5, 2016, Canada and Sri Lanka concluded a first-time code-share Air Transport Agreement (ATA) to facilitate greater trade, investment and people-to-people links between the two countries.

Human Rights

Canada works through bilateral and multilateral forums to call for sustained progress on Sri Lanka’s commitments to promote and protect human rights. Canada has made constructive recommendations to the Government of Sri Lanka at the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation of human rights in that country. Canada recommends that Sri Lanka take a number of steps to promote and protect human rights, including ensuring that Constitutional reforms guarantee equal protections, rights and treatment of all individuals without distinction on any basis, including faith, gender, caste, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity or language.

June 2018