Colombo, Dec 18 (newsin.asia) – Sri Lanka and China, on Monday, exchanged plaques of friendship commemorating the 65th anniversary of the rubber, rice agreement which was signed between the two countries in 1952.
The celebratory event was held in capital Colombo and attended by Sri Lanka’s Speaker of Parliament, Karu Jayasuriya, officials from China’s Embassy in Sri Lanka and relatives of the ministers who signed the pact 65 years ago.
The event was organised by the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka in collaboration with the Sri Lanka, China Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, speaking at the event said that the friendship shared between China and Sri Lanka had only strengthened since the signing of this beneficial agreement and he thanked China for always supporting the island country.
Jayasuriya said that while the rubber, rice agreement was seen as a commercial pact, it was however a treaty of friendship which was signed between the two countries 65 years ago.
“I would not really call this a trade agreement but I would call this an agreement of friendship. At that time, in 1952, rice had become a very politically sensitive commodity as the Sri Lankan government at that time, was required to provide people with two measures of rice and we were facing a severe shortage,” Jayasuriya said.
“If rice was not provided there was a threat that the government would be overthrown. Therefore the government was forced to look out for urgent sources who could supply the rice. At that time, China willingly provided us the rice
while we provided them our rubber,” Jayasuriya added.
The Sri Lanka-China rubber, rice Trade Agreement of 1952 was undoubtedly the most useful trade agreement negotiated by Sri Lanka and one of the most successful and durable Trade Agreements in the world, having been in operation for thirty years.
The agreement was signed by then Minister of Commerce, late R. G. Senanayake and his Chinese counterpart in the presence of then Prime Minister of China, Zhou En Lai in Beijing.
Jayasuriya said that under the agreement, China had provided rice to Sri Lanka below the world market price and had purchased Sri Lankan rubber at a price above the world market value.
While also contributing towards Sri Lanka’s development sector, Jayasuriya said that even to date, China was one of our largest development partners with the construction and development of ports, airports and highways.
Pang Chunxue, Charge d’affairs at the Chinese Embassy in Colombo said that China and Sri Lanka relations date back to a thousand years and the rubber rice pact was the first major barter trade agreement signed between the new China and a non socialist country.