Colombo, Sep 28 (IANS): Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Thursday stressed the need to have a comprehensive dialogue between the West and China, the United States and China and the European Union and China as a robust international plan to address the global challenges anticipated in 2024.
He complained that the great power rivalries and geopolitics have been an emerging threat to developing countries for open access to trade, investment, capital and etc.
“China’s Belt and Road Initiative has been labelled as a cohesive program, and the participating countries like Sri Lanka have been looked upon with suspicion. This will further hurt economic prospects in the Global South, and the polarisation will become more evident,” the Sri Lankan President said while delivering the opening speech on the first day of the 'Berlin Global' Dialogue in Berlin, Germany.
He said that for a country like Sri Lanka, it has learned to live with pressure from America, India, and China.
“That's nothing new for us anymore. The United States is witnessing an acrimonious run-up to the 2024 election year, which will detract from its ability to lead in this instance,” he said.
He said that it is creating a vacuum because if the US wants a new order the US must lead.
“We know from now onwards, till end of next year, that leadership will gradually reduce as they start focusing more and more on their 2024 elections. So then what happens to the rest of us? On the other hand, you are finding a challenge to G7 and QUAD, which is the expansion of the BRICS, what you call the BRICS Plus,” President Wickremesinghe said adding that the Global South is now looking for alternative leadership and the G20 has been downgraded.
Sri Lanka President suggested that in the absence of the United States leadership 2024, EU, together with G20 BRICS, and some selected other Asian and African could bring in the big financial institutions, sit down and find urgent solutions to the financial issues faced by the developing countries.
In the backdrop that many developing countries are burdened with substantial debt, President warned that that without immediate corrective measures, the world could be on the brink of another crisis.
“The confluences of factors face serious risk for many developing countries. In the global south, we are facing rising import costs, food, energy, insecurity, and the problems of our exports. The resulting balance of payment stress translates into a weaker economy for all of us,” President Wickremesinghe said drawing a parallel between the developed countries and those developing.
“The difference between the advanced economies and the developing nations is that you all have all the buffers and reserves to deal with these shocks. We haven't. And it's from here that the sovereign debt crisis started.”
“In this context, I think the world may be on another crisis if corrective measures are not taken immediately. Many developing countries find themselves with large debt burdens,”
He shared Sri Lanka's experience when declaring bankruptcy, which led to a halt in foreign funding and triggered a political crisis.
“For example, IMF has no mechanism to face this new situation. When Sri Lanka declared bankruptcy, all foreign funding ceased and that started the political crisis. It's so bad and there's no way in which you can help any country which declares bankruptcy,” President Wickremesinghe said.
However, President Wickremesinghe expressed gratitude for the support received from India and Bangladesh in addressing Sri Lanka's recent economic challenges.