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Australian Institute of International Affairs - Victoria
Colombo   with port city being built at top right

Sri Lanka’s Geopolitics and Trade Potential

Tue, 29 Jun 2021
17:30 - 19:00

Panel discussion: Mr. Kapila Fonseka, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Mr. Sarinda Unamboowe, Mr. Kalum de Silva and Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonesekara with Dr. Rebecca Strating.


Commonly referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’, Sri Lanka had a growing economy before the COVID-19 pandemic and has a diaspora of over 170,000 in Australia. With over 2,000 years of trading history with major powers such as China and India, Sri Lanka is today considered an important strategic partner for countries in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, presenting significant trade and investment opportunities in exports, services and education, as well as being an important security partner for Australia on matters of transnational crime.

Sri Lanka’s ports are at key locations on global shipping lanes, making them a key strategic asset, and of interest to many countries. Sri Lanka is also leading the way in developing COVID-safe travel plans to revive its tourism sector in a post-COVID world. As geopolitical tensions continue to rise, particularly between Sri Lanka’s neighbours and within the U.S-China relationship more broadly, Sri Lanka faces challenges in sustaining its economic growth and ensuring regional stability.


What are the main export and import opportunities offered by Sri Lanka? What are the two-way trade and investment opportunities between Sri Lanka and Australia? What geopolitical role does Sri Lanka play for the rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific?


AIIA Victoria invites you to join a panel discussion with Mr. Kapila Fonseka, Ms. Kimarli Fernando, Mr. Sarinda Unamboowe, Mr. Kalum de Silva and Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonesekara moderated by Dr. Rebecca Strating.


This event is supported by the Consulate General of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Melbourne and the Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce (SLACC).


To download the pdf flyer please click here


Mr. Kapila Fonseka is the third Consul General of Sri Lanka in Melbourne, with jurisdiction over the States of Victoria, South Australia, and Tasmania. Kapila is a Grade I officer of the Sri Lanka Foreign Service and has previously served in India (Sri Lanka High Commissions in New Delhi), the UK (Sri Lanka High Commission in London) and in Germany (Sri Lanka Embassy in Berlin). While serving in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, Sri Lanka, he has served in the Economic Affairs, Protocol, Public Communications, South Asia and SAARC, United Nations and Consular Divisions Divisions. During his twenty years of service, Kapila has represented Sri Lanka in many regional and multinational fora including the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), Colombo Plan, and the Commonwealth etc. He is a graduate of the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

Ms. Kimarli Fernando is the Chairperson of Sri Lanka Tourism, heading the Government’s four main Tourism entities; Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau, and Sri Lanka Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management. This is the first time that one Chairperson was appointed to all four Boards; she is also the first woman in the role. Kimarli is a very focused, determined and result-oriented corporate leader with over 30 years of experience and a proven track record in corporate governance & ethical practices in the banking industry and private sector, including in local and foreign banks, together with work experience in Frankfurt in the area of Corporate Finance. She has served on the board of several listed companies. Kimarli has an LLB (Hons) from London School of Economics and Political Science and is a Barrister-at-Law at Lincoln’s Inn, UK and an Attorney-at-law in Sri Lanka. She is a life member of the Sri Lanka Bar Association and Law Society of Sri Lanka. She has a Certificate in Human Resource Management from the Postgraduate Institute of Management in Sri Lanka and a Diploma in Child Psychology. Kimarli authored Company Law of Sri Lanka 2nd edition, a definitive reference book for students and practitioners of Company Law in Sri Lanka. She led the publication of the Handbook Barrier Free Access for an international bank, a pioneering guide for business to comply with the law and spirit of inclusion for those with disabilities in the workplace. In recognition of her achievements, she was awarded Professional Woman of the Year 2007 and Woman of Achievement for Banking in 2009.

Mr. Sarinda Unamboowe is the CEO of MAS Kreeda (a major apparel and textile company) and a member of the board of MAS Capital. Prior to this he was a banker, stockbroker and headed a supermarket chain. He is a committed conservationist and champion of environmental sustainability and sits on MAS’s Sustainability Advisory Committee. A progressive change agent he has been one of the driving forces behind the ‘Work from Anywhere’ initiatives at MAS and is a strong advocate of flexible work policies and empowering women in leadership roles. Sarinda has walked the length of Sri Lanka twice and ridden a bicycle around Sri Lanka 4 times to raise money for two separate charities he co-founded, TRAIL and Wheels for Wheels. He is a published wildlife photographer and is passionate about physical fitness and believes a strong, active body is key to a healthy, creative mind.

Mr. Kalum de Silva is an Australia based finance professional with over 20 years experience in Private Equity and International Business with extensive dealings in South & South East Asia, the UK and the USA. Kalum managed the strategic direction and growth of a number of businesses in software development, retail, financial services, fitness and fast & casual food industries during this time. Kalum is currently the National President of the Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce (SLACC). SLACC is the official bi-lateral chamber registered under the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and has been instrumental in bringing Australian investors and businesses to Sri Lanka whilst helping Sri Lankan businesses to expand to Australia. Kalum is also the Managing Director of Australasian Academy of Hospitality (AAH) a BOI approved hospitality institute offering an Australian Advanced Diploma in Sri Lanka. AAH is the first Australian owned higher education institute in Sri Lanka with a focus on hospitality. Kalum is a fully qualified Certified Practicing Accountant (CPA) and holds Master of Business Administration and Master of Professional Accounting degrees from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). He is also a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Mr. Asanga Abeyagoonesekara is an International Security and Geopolitics Analyst and Strategic Advisor from Sri Lanka. Previously he has served the government of Sri Lanka,  and presently serves as the Senior Advisor on Security and Geopolitics to the Leader of the Opposition Sri Lanka Parliament. He has led two Government think tanks, the national security think tank under the Ministry of Defence and the foreign policy think tank under the Ministry of External Affairs, providing strategic advocacy on Foreign Policy and Defence in Sri Lanka. He was the founding Director-General of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) until January 2020. His latest book is on Sri Lanka’s Geo-political challenges Conundrum of an Island (World Scientific, Singapore). He is the author of Sri Lanka at Crossroads (2019). He served as a Visiting Professor for Geo-politics and Global Leadership (USA), Visiting Lecturer for International Security (Colombo University, Sri Lanka), International Political Economy (University of London). He is an Alumnus, Fellow at National Defense University (NESA, NDU) in Washington DC, Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI APCSS, Hawaii), US State Department IVLP, and Young Global Leader World Economic Forum (Geneva).

Dr. Rebecca Strating is the Executive Director of La Trobe Asia and a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the Department of Politics, Media and Philosophy at La trobe University. Her research focuses on maritime disputes in Asia and Australian foreign and defence policy. She has written three monographs, most recently Defending the Maritime Rules-Based Order (2020). In 2019 she was awarded an Asian Studies Visiting Fellowship to research at the East West Center in Washington DC for three months. She was also a visiting affiliate fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore, an affiliated researcher at Georgetown University and is currently a non-visiting fellow at the Perth US Asia Centre. She has co-edited two special issues and multiple journal articles and book chapters.  In 2019, her second monograph, The Post-Colonial Security Dilemma, was published with the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in 2019. In 2018, she was awarded the prestigious Boyer Prize by the Australian Institute of International Affairs for best article published in the Australian Journal of International Affairs in 2017 for her paper Timor-Leste’s Foreign Policy Approach to the Timor Sea: Pipeline or Pipedream?


This event is open to to all (subject to COVIDSafe requirements) and it will also be streamed online via Zoom. Registrations close on 29 June at 2pm AEST (9.30am SLT), after which you will receive a follow-up email containing details of how to join the Zoom webinar. The event will commence at 5:30pm AEST (1pm SLT) (Melbourne time, UTC+10).

Ticket Type Price
In-person: AIIA VIC Premium Member $0 Any Membership Required* Log in $0.00 Membership Required
In-person: AIIA VIC Member $20 Any Membership Required* Log in $20.00 Membership Required
In-person: AIIA VIC Student Member $0 Any Membership Required* Log in $0.00 Membership Required
In-person: Non-Member $30 $30.00
In-person: Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce Member $20 $20.00
WEBINAR: AIIA VIC Member $0 Any Membership Required* Log in $0.00 Membership Required
WEBINAR: AIIA VIC Student Member $0 Any Membership Required* Log in $0.00 Membership Required
WEBINAR: AIIA Member (other Branches) $0 $0.00
WEBINAR: Student Non-Member $5 $5.00
WEBINAR: Non-Member $10 $10.00
WEBINAR: Sri Lanka Australia Chamber of Commerce Member $0 $0.00
Total: $
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124 Jolimont Rd, East Melbourne VIC 3002

Dyason House, 124 Jolimont Road, East Melbourne, Victoria, 3002, Australia

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