Relations between Sri Lanka and the Philippines

phil sri relations


Sri Lanka and The Philippines have always enjoyed excellent relations based on mutual respect and shared values. The two countries have identified areas such as, trade and economic, education , knowledge sharing, agriculture, energy, food processing, air services, defence, tourism, culture and strong and enduring people to people contact as priority sectors for mutual cooperation.

Sri Lanka and the Philippines  celebrates 57 years of diplomatic relations in 2018 which is an important milestone in our bilateral relations.


Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the Philippines were established in January 1961 with the Government of the Philippines opening a legation in Colombo. Sri Lanka had a Charge d’ Affaires level Mission, accredited to Japan, and the relations were upgraded to the Embassy level in Manila and Colombo in 1961 and 1964 respectively.

On 1st March 1990, the Sri Lanka government decided to close down the Embassy in Manila, while the Government of the Philippines also closed down their Embassy in Colombo on 30th June 1993.

In September 1998, Sri Lankan resident Mission was reopened in Manila, with high priority given to coordinate aid and technical assistance programmes to Sri Lanka from the Asian Development Bank, (ADB) Manila. The position of the Philippines as the founding member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), was also a vital political factor that led to the reopening of the Sri Lanka Mission in Manila.

The Philippine Embassy in Bangladesh is presently accredited to Sri Lanka and Philippine Honorary Consul in Colombo compliments the work of the Embassy in Dhaka.

Political Relations

Sri Lanka and The Philippines actively engage each other in the bilateral and multilateral arena based mutual understanding and respect. A firm commitment exists to further strengthening their long-standing diplomatic and political relations.

The following bilateral agreements have been signed between the two countries to strengthen multi-faceted relations;

  • Exchange of letters, concerning the proposal to abolish non-immigrant visa requirements for the citizens of the two countries signed on 13th May 1972.
  • Air Transport Agreement signed on 18th December 1976.
  • Cultural Co-operation Agreement signed on 11th November 1976.
  • Trade Agreement signed on 27th November 1980.
  • Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income signed on 11th December 2000. (Ratification of the Agreement with effect from 14th March 2018)
  • MoU on Political Consultation signed on 3rd February 2016.
  • MoU  on Visa Exemption for Diplomatic and Official Passport Holders signed on 7th October 2016. (Entry into force with effect from 17th November 2017.)

MoUs Signed between the Chambers;

Memorandum of Agreement between the Philippines Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) – 23rd October 2008.

MoU was signed with the objective of strengthening trade and economic ties between the two countries and to exchange information, develop business contacts and to establish Business Councils in each country.

The following MoUs / Agreements are in progress;

  • MoU between Department of National Defence of the Philippines and Ministry of Defence of Sri Lanka
  • MoU on Cooperation in Agriculture and related fields between the Philippines and Sri Lanka
  • MoU on Academic Cooperation in higher education between the Commission on higher education of the Philippines and Ministry of Higher Education & Highways of Sri Lanka
  • Agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons between Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
  • Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Republic of the Philippines
  • Air Transport Agreement between Sri Lanka and Philippines
  • MoU between Sri Lanka Export Development Board and Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM)
  • MoU  on Labour Corporation between Sri Lanka and Philippines
  • MoU in the areas of nursing and care giving
  • Mou on Tourism Cooperation between Sri Lanka and the Philippines
  • Memorandum of Agreement Between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Concerning the Recognition of Certificates Under the Terms of the 1978 STCW Convention, as Amended

Important High-Level Visits between Two Countries

From Sri Lanka:

  • Late Hon. John Kotelawala, as the Prime Minister (Ceylon), December 1954
  • Late Prime Minister Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike visited Manila in 1976
  • Late Prime Minister Hon. R. Premadasa visited Manila in 1981
  • Hon. W.J.M. Lokubandara, former Speaker of the Parliament of Sri Lanka, visited Manila in April 2005
  • Hon. Rohitha Bogollagama, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, visited Manila to participate at the 14th ASEAN Regional Forum which was held from 31st July to 2nd August 2007
  • H.E. President Maithipala Sirisena, as the then Minister of Agriculture and Agrarian Services, visited Philippines from 28th October to 2nd November 2008. (Official visit to the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Los Baños, Laguna and National Plant Quarantine Service of Philippines in Davao City.)
  • Hon. D.M. Jayaratne, as Prime Minister, May 2011
  • Hon. Prof. G L Peiris, former Minister of External Affairs of Sri Lanka, visited Philippines from 31st July to 3rd August 2013
  • Hon. Vasantha Senanayake, State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka, visited Philippines to participate at the 50th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) & 24th ARF Ministerial Meeting which was held from 2nd to 8th August 2017
  • Hon. Mangala Samaraweera, Minister of Finance and Mass Media of Sri Lanka, visited Manila to participate at the Manila 2018, 51st ADB Annual Meeting which was held from 3rd to 5th May 2018

From the Philippines:

In the late nineteenth century, the Philippine’s National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, thrice visited Colombo and cultivated friendships. These marked the visits by a ranking Philippine official to Sri Lanka. To honour this historical link, a Suite in the Grand Oriental Hotel, Colombo where Dr. Rizal stayed, during his visits, has been named as the “Jose Rizal Suite”.

Sri Lanka – Philippines Trade and Economic Relations

Economic relations between the Philippines and Sri Lanka have been active. The total trade turnover between the two countries has not shown a regular pattern during last 14 years.

Sri Lanka‘s trade with Philippines 2004 – 2017 (Value in US $ Mn.) 

Year Sri Lanka’s Exports Sri Lanka’s Imports Total Trade Turnover Balance of Trade
2004 2.72 6.77   9.49 -4.05
2005 3.21 7.46 10.67 -4.25
2006 6.19 6.54 12.73 -0.35
2007 4.61 8.13 12.74 -3.52
2008 3.46 7.74 11.20 -4.28
2009 20.61 7.29 27.90 13.32
2010 12.31 7.40 19.71 4.91
2011 9.38 23.13 32.51 -13.75
2012 8.13 19.46 27.59 -11.33
2013 8.34 31.85 40.19 -23.51
2014 34.49 29.56 64.05 4.93
2015 17.32 28.04 45.36 -10.72
2016 14.78 26.63 41.41 -11.85
2017 37.13 30.04 67.17 7.09

                                                                                                          Source: Sri Lanka Customs

It is observed that Sri Lanka’s export has recorded the highest with $37.13 Mn in the year 2017 followed by $34.49 Mn in the year 2014.

The highest importation from the Philippines was recorded in the year 2013 and gradually declined up to the year 2016. However, there is a slight increase of Sri Lanka’s imports in the year 2017 amounting to $30.04 Mn.

The Total Trade Turnover was recorded highest in 2017 amounting to $67.17Mn. which shows the improvement of good trade relations between the two countries.

The balance of trade has been in favour of the Philippines except in 2009, 2010, 2014, and 2017.  This is mainly due to increase in the exports of unused postage, revenue stamps, stamp impressed paper, bank notes and security papers etc. which account for about 76% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to Philippines in 2017.


Sri Lanka’s leading exports to the Philippines consist of unused postage, revenue stamps, stamp impressed paper, bank notes, and security papers etc. which contributes for about 76% of all exported products.

Apparel is the second export items from Sri Lanka to the Philippines following the New pneumatic rubber tyres, Retreated or used pneumatic tyres of rubber, products of the milling industry; malt; starches; insulin; and wheat gluten, Gloves, mittens & mitts, Tea, Trailers & Semi-trailers, Plastics; Cellulose & its chemical derivatives, etc. are the other major export items to Philippines.

Few products such as straw of esparto or of other planting materials; basketware and wickerwork, clocks and watches and parts thereof, umbrellas, sun umbrellas, walking sticks, seat-sticks, whips, riding-crops and parts thereof, and products of animal origin are the newly introduced export products in the Philippines.

Major Exports from Sri Lanka to Philippine 2009-2017 (Value in US $ Mn.)

Description 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Printed books, newspapers, pictures and other products of the printing industry; 0.00 0.00 26.05 7.92 4.39 24.19
Apparel 3.40 3.86 3.33 2.77 3.07 2.22
Wheat of muslin flour 0.00 0.05 0.93 1.27 1.72
Retreated or used pneumatic tyres of rubber; 0.47 0.56 0.59 0.67 0.86 0.47
Tea 0.39 0.42 0.69 0.67 0.85 0.70


Confectionary and Bakery Products is the main import item from Philippine to Sri Lanka in the year 2017 which contributed 27.5% from the total imports in 2017. Activated carbon, Coconut Oil, paper and paperboard, miscellaneous manufactured articles, Electronic integrated circuits etc., are the other main imports items from Philippines to Sri Lanka in 2017