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Sri Lanka eyes Preferential Trade Agreement with Indonesia

Sri Lanka eyes Preferential Trade Agreement with Indonesia

The Morning: Sri Lanka and Indonesia are considering entering into a potential Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), according to the International Trade Office.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, International Trade Office Chief Negotiator K.J. Weerasinghe revealed that following the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed with Thailand on 3 February, Sri Lanka was looking to enter into a PTA, with discussions in this regard scheduled for March.
Responding to a query on whether both countries had come to an agreement on when the first round of talks would be held, he stated: “We have not come to that stage yet. We are looking at somewhere in March just for a short virtual meeting.”
As part of the Government’s drive to expand Sri Lanka’s inventory of trade agreements, it was announced recently that Sri Lanka would also be seeking to enter into an FTA with Malaysia.
According to Weerasinghe, the first round of talks between Sri Lanka and Malaysia is likely to take place end-March. However, he said that both parties were yet to agree on a date and location.
In addition to these PTAs being considered, Sri Lanka has also been negotiating with India to upgrade the existing trade agreement between the two nations.
While India and Sri Lanka have entered into the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA), both nations have since attempted to upgrade the agreement by entering into an Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA).
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business last week, Weerasinghe stated: “We have had many discussions and we are trying to schedule the next round of talks for March. The agreement that is proposed will cover services, investment, anti-dumping, countervailing, economic cooperation, and dispute settlement, in addition to goods,” he added.
Accordingly, Cabinet Spokesman Bandula Gunawardana on 19 February revealed that the 14th round of talks between Sri Lanka and India on the ETCA was scheduled to be held in New Delhi in the first week of March.

OSL take:
Sri Lanka is in the process of reviewing and further strengthening the country’s existing trade agreements with other countries while also entering into new trade agreements this year. Sri Lanka entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand last month and is now in the process of finalizing an FTA with China and Singapore, an Economic and Technical Corporation Agreement (ETCA) with India while negotiating Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with Bangladesh and Indonesia. All these are indicative of the growing trade ties Sri Lanka enjoys with a host of other countries. Sri Lanka also enjoys trade concessions with US, EU and UK. Sri Lanka therefore is one of the best venues for foreign businesses to set up base in order to engage with countries in the region where Sri Lanka has trade pacts with. Given that Sri Lanka is becoming a trading hub in the South Asian region supported by the country’s strategic positioning in the Indian Ocean, foreign businesses could confidently explore opportunities in Sri Lanka. Foreign businesses could also look at forming partnerships or joint ventures with local businesses with the aim of expansion locally and internationally.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20240306/Z_4

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