Sri Lanka and Malaysia to fast-track FTA to strengthen relations and investment opportunities
Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak during a recent visit to Sri Lanka pledged to strengthen relations with Sri Lanka and increase investment by fast-tracking the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
The Malaysian Prime Minister had given this assurance when he met President Maithripala Sirisena.
Both sides have agreed to expand the existing close cooperation in many fields including trade and investment, agriculture, science and technology, including nanotechnology and biotechnology, e-commerce, e-courts, international forums, military training, diplomatic training and intelligence exchange to curb drugs and human smuggling.
Three agreements were signed after the conclusion of bilateral talks held between the two leaders, which featured Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a number of Malaysian and Sri Lankan ministers.
The bilateral meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat.
The Malaysian Prime Minister undertook the official visit to Sri Lanka to mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, with a special stamp and first-day cover issued to mark the occasion.
Premier Najib reportedly said that bilateral trade between the two countries had steadily grown during the last few years and during the first 10 months of this year it had reached US$ 680 million.
However, since trade is heavily balanced in Malaysia’s favour, the Prime Minister had assured that Malaysia would explore every possibility to ensure an increase of Sri Lankan exports to Malaysia.
The Prime Minister had said the proposed FTA would be useful to further expand trade and said his ministers would take steps to speed up talks.
Malaysia has invested US$ 3.1 million in 47 projects in Sri Lanka and Malaysian entrepreneurs were looking into many sectors for potential investments, the Prime Minister had also revealed.
Two Memorandums of Understanding on the Training of Diplomats and Cooperation in Foresight and Science-2-Action and Memorandum of Collaboration between the Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation of Sri Lanka and Malaysian Bio-economy Development Cooperation SDN BHD were signed between the two countries.
The proposal to fast-track the FTA between Sri Lanka and Malaysia with the aim of strengthening relations as well as investment opportunities is a positive signal for investors interested in securing good investment opportunities in the island nation. The FTA with Malaysia will add to Sri Lanka’s portfolio of FTAs with other countries in the region including India and Pakistan. The benefits of the FTAs could be reaped by investors entering the country and Sri Lanka would be the best business destination in the Indian Ocean region.
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