FTA with Singapore to be finalised next month
The Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) said at the annual SAARC Trade Fair and Investment Forum held in Colombo that it expected to sign the free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore by the end of October and summarised the advantages of capitalising in Sri Lanka’s export-driven trade and services sector.
“We have completed five rounds of negotiations with Singapore and we hope to finalise the agreement by the end of October,” Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade, Malik Samarawickrama said.
Samarawickrama stated that the FTA would cover areas such as Investment and Services chapters comprising Government procurement, financial services, telecommunication and e-commerce services besides the usual sections covering merchandise.
“For Singapore, we are particularly focused on encouraging Singaporean investment into Sri Lanka and new concepts such as re-manufacturing industries,” he said.
He also spoke of the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) that Sri Lanka had recently negotiated for the 5th time with India.
“ETCA can increase Sri Lanka’s competitiveness in industrial exports and also increase our supply capacity to better utilise market access to India. ETCA envisages the relaxing of apparel and pepper quotas. Also it is addressing outstanding non-tariff barriers in the Indian market as well as many of the existing procedural barriers and delays in Indian ports of entry through mutual recognition agreements. This will particularly benefit exporters of perishable items such as fruits, vegetables and fish,” he explained.
Samarawickrama noted that at present most of Sri Lanka’s foreign direct investments (FDIs) was derived from China, adding that when the FTA was signed, the GoSL intended to incorporate a priority tariff for competitive Sri Lankan products that be implemented without delay.
The proposed China FTA is focused on apparel, tea, gems and jewellery, rubber products, coconuts and spices as key industries.¹He added that the proposed China FTA combined with the ETCA will enable Sri Lanka to gain favoured entry to a 2.5 billion strong marketplace with an evolving middle-class exceeding the entire EU.
“The Government of Sri Lanka is aware of the possible trade disruptions that can occur during the transition period and therefore we are looking at providing a trade adjustment package for local industrialists to upgrade machinery and introduce new technology so that these industries can be more competitive and serve the local market as well as export to the regional and global markets,” he added.
Samarawickrama also stated that Sri Lanka’s National Export Strategy (NES) will become operational in September and encouraged promoting tourism in South Asia by utilising SriLankan Airlines as a carrier, assuring that this sector provided innumerable investment opportunities.
The FTAs will allow Sri Lankan registered businesses to take advantage of the benefits listed under the agreements and provide greater market access to facilitating ease of trade.
Also as pointed out by Samarawickrama, investment opportunities in the country’s airline sector will enable interested entities to explore possibilities.
|Article Code :||VBS/AT/11092017/Z_1|