Sri Lanka’s president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, said that the country should be able to complete debt restructuring talks by September, or November at the latest. Wickremesinghe made the comments following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Sri Lanka secured a $2.9bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund in March and has previously stated that it aims to complete talks on restructuring debt owed to bilateral creditors and overseas bondholders by September. The island nation defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in its history in April last year as the worst financial crisis since independence from Britain in 1948 crushed its economy. Sri Lanka owes $7.1bn to its creditors, with $3bn owed to China, $1.6bn to India and $2.4bn to the Paris Club, a group of creditor nations.
Last month, France, India and Japan unveiled a common platform for talks among bilateral creditors to coordinate the restructuring of the debt. The IMF called this week for timely restructuring pacts with the country’s creditors. The global lender said Sri Lanka’s macroeconomic situation was improving, although earlier it had predicted the economy would contract 3% this year.
At the meeting with Kishida, Wickremesinghe expressed regret over past relations with Japan when Sri Lanka called off a major infrastructure deal signed with Tokyo. The president suggested his country was now keen to restart multiple investment projects with Japan.