The arrival of Buddhism to the island in the 3rd century BC sets a land mark in the Sri Lankan foreign policy as the relationship between India and Sri Lanka have been very firm since then and prevailing up to date. Apart from the relations with India, Sri Lanka has historically been well connected with other countries such as Italy, China, Cambodia, Africa and Vietnam, etc in terms of trade, religion and culture. The country was colonized with the arrival of colonial powers in the beginning of the 16th century. After Sri Lanka gained independence in 1948, local authorities gained power and subsequently foreign policy has been developed with ups and downs. During the post independent period, Sri Lanka underwent through several phases of foreign policy. Among them, the commonwealth phase, search of Asian identify, policy of non alignment, adaptation of an open economy, non aligned free and progressive foreign policy are remarkable.
At present Sri Lanka has engaged in a ‘remedial foreign policy’ under the realm of good governance. As a result, there is an ‘openness to engage’ in the sphere of foreign affairs in Sri Lanka. Apparently, the high-level visits made by foreign delegations to Sri Lanka during the last few months and various diplomatic discussions and talks with foreign high-level delegations on economic relations, tourism and etc envisage a vast opening up in the Sri Lankan Foreign Policy. In fact, the openness in the current foreign policy has enabled many foreign organizations; business ventures to return to Sri Lanka and continue to engage in their work and business.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Institutional wise, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka primarily deals with foreign relations and the foreign policy of the country with the aim of expanding foreign relations and diplomatic ties with foreign countries and International organizations. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have made several bilateral agreements that cover air services, supply of man power, tourism, transfer of prisoners, avoidance of double taxation, cultural cooperation agreements and promotion and protection of investment agreements with relevant parties. This helps maintain and foster foreign policy and foreign relations of Sri Lanka. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also ensures that welfare of the Sri Lankans living abroad through the established networks and missions abroad. The ministry also intervenes in issues that arise with regard to foreign assistance, economic partnerships, labour disputes and border issues with the neighboring water territory.