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 will celebrate 55 years of diplomatic relations in 2016 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.
  • 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 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 Prime Minister Hon. Sirimavo Bandaranaike visited Manila in 1976
  • Late Prime Minister Hon. R. Premadasa visited Manila in 1985
  • 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 paid a visit to 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 Manila in 2008
  • Hon. Prof. G L Peiris, former Minister of External Affairs visited Philippines from 31st July to 3rd August, 2013
  • Hon. Vasantha Senanayake, State Minister of Foreign Affairs visited Philippines from 02nd to 08th August 2017

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 10 years.

The balance of trade has been in favour of The Philippines except in 2009, 2010 and 2014.  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 2014.

Sri Lanka’s leading exports to the Philippines consist of fabrics, tyres, tea, gloves, apparels and clothing accessories.
The Philippine’s exports to Sri Lanka consist of parts and accessories of machines,  medicaments, activated carbon, cotton, iron and steel, perfumes, office machines, food (malt extract) electrical machinery, sound recorders, construction materials, textiles and yarns and chemical products etc.

Sri Lanka‘s trade with Philippines 2004 – 2014 (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

                            Source: Sri Lanka Customs

  •  Though the value of total trade between two countries has increased in large amount in the years after 2008, it shows a decline too of the exports of these years after 2009.
  • In the imports, the total value of Sri Lanka’s imports from Philippines in 2013 has immensely increased comparing with the previous years and this is manly due to the rapid increase of imports in preparations of cereals, Miscellaneous manufactured articles, wood and articles of wood and paper and paper board products and in 2014 it has reduced.


  • Unused postage (Paper, bank notes, Cheque forms and  similar  document) is  the  main  exports  item from  Sri Lanka  to  Philippine  in    Its   contribution was 76% of total exports
  • Apparel is the main exports item from Sri Lanka to Philippine and its contribution was about 46% of total exports item from Sri Lanka to Philippine in 2013. New pneumatic rubber tyres, Retreated or used pneumatic tyres of rubber, Gloves, mittens & mitts, Tea, Trailers & Semi-trailers, Plastics; Cellulose & its chemical derivatives, etc are the other major export items to Philippines

Major Exports from Sri Lanka to Philippine 2009-2013 (Value in US $ Mn.)

DESCRIPTION 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Apparel 1.09 1.72 3.71 3.40 3.86
New pneumatic tyres, of rubber 0.29 0.74 1.53 1.36 0.83
Retreated or used pneumatic tyres of rubber 0.22 0.19 0.47 0.72 0.74
Gloves, mittens & mitts 0.34 0.58 0.63 0.61 0.48