In the wake of finalising a review report on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to be signed with the US, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a phone conversation with Foreign Relations Minister Dinesh Gunawardena on Monday.
The Foreign Relations Ministry said Minister Gunawardena has briefed US Secretary of State Pompeo on the review report on the MCC.
A four-member committee appointed by the new government headed by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to review the MCC, submitted a final review report to the President the week before.
The review was made public later that week. The President’s Media Division earlier last week said quoting review committee chairman professor Lalithsiri Gunaruwan that two stages of the MCC agreement had been signed in 2017 and 2018.
The committee members have said USD 7.4 million and 2.6 million had been granted under the two stages but no account details are to be found in this regard.
However, the US Embassy in a statement said no MCC grant monies were ever transferred to, or spent by the Sri Lankan Government under the proposed USD 480 million grant.
It also said it was disappointing to see the continued politicisation and spread of disinformation related to the proposed USD 480 million grant Sri Lanka requested from the US Government.
“The decision of whether or not to accept a $480 million dollar grant from the people of the US rests with the Government of Sri Lanka,” the Embassy said.
According to the annual report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) for the year 2019, China and the US continue to be the major trading partners of Sri Lanka.
The CBSL report said in comparison to 2018, total trade volume with both the US and the UK has increased in 2019.
It said the US remains as the single largest buyer of Sri Lankan exports with a share of total exports earnings from the US increasing to 26.3 per cent compared to 25.9 per cent in 2018.
Export earnings from the US have increased by 1.8 per cent to USD 3,141 million in 2019 mainly due to exports of garments.
The US continued to be the single largest garment export destination for Sri Lanka which is 45 per cent of total garments exports from the country reaching the US.
Earnings from garment exports to the US in 2019 had increased by 3 per cent to USD 2,338 million.
During the phone conversation on Monday, the minister and the state secretary had discussed US-Sri Lanka cooperation in COVID response-supply of PPEs to the US, donation of ventilators to Sri Lanka and COVID related bilateral assistance amounting to US$ 5.8 million- economic recovery initiatives, defence and security matters, counter terrorism and international economic cooperation featured in the discussions.
Meanwhile, in a statement, State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus also said the two leaders also discussed the US’ ongoing COVID-19 assistance to Sri Lanka and reviewed the long standing US-Sri Lankan cooperation on health and humanitarian issues.