Sri Lanka-Thailand free trade agreement negotiations continue
The Morning: The 8th Round of Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA) negotiations have been concluded.
The negotiations which took place from 27-29 November in Bangkok, were co-chaired by the Director General of the Department of Trade Negotiations and the Chief Negotiator of Thailand, Auramon Supthaweethum and the Chief Negotiator of Sri Lanka, K.J. Weerasinghe, according to the Embassy and Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Bangkok.
The Chief Negotiator of Thailand welcomed the Sri Lankan delegation to the 8th Round of SLTFTA negotiations and stated that both countries have agreed to conclude the negotiations by the end of 2023.
Deputy Minister Napintorn, in his remarks, has highlighted that the establishment of the Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA is an opportunity to expand trade and investment into new markets in South Asia. “Sri Lanka is strategically located on the shipping routes of the Indian Ocean. It is linked to South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa and is a key strategic link in China’s Maritime Silk Road and has abundant resources such as gems, aquatic animals and minerals, which are raw materials that Thailand’s domestic industry needs.”
The FTA is expected to be signed on 3 February 2024 to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, the Chief Negotiator of Sri Lanka has appreciated Thailand for hosting the 8th Round of SLTFTA Negotiations while expressing gratitude for agreeing to conclude the SLTFTA Negotiations by the end of this year.
On the sidelines of negotiations, a seminar on “Trade and Investment Opportunities in Thailand and Sri Lanka” was organized by Thailand’s Department of Trade Negotiations and the Department of International Trade Promotion on 29 November. The opening remarks at the Seminar were delivered by the Deputy Minister of Commerce, Napintorn Srisunpang and Ambassador of Sri Lanka and UNESCAP Permanent Representative C. A. Chaminda I. Colonne.
During her remarks, Ambassador Colonne stated that despite the long-standing historical relations between our two brotherly nations, the two-way trade between Sri Lanka and Thailand amounted to only $ 352 million in 2022. “It is regrettable to state that the total investment received from Thailand in Sri Lanka is negligible, with only $ 0.74 million recorded in 2022. The vision of the Government of Sri Lanka is to integrate into the global economy and in this context, to expand economic and trade relations to South Asia and then to the East and to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Sri Lanka has submitted its letter of intent to the RCEP Secretariat.”
Sri Lanka is currently looking at reviewing, revamping and strengthening the country’s existing trade ties while also looking at forming new trade agreements with the aim of positioning Sri Lanka as an emerging business destination in the South Asian region. It is in such a backdrop that Sri Lanka is engaged in a process to finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand next year. Sri Lanka already enjoys several FTAs with key markets in the region including India and Pakistan. An FTA with China is also under discussion while Sri Lanka is looking at further strengthening trade ties with India through the proposed ETCA. All these are indicative of Sri Lanka’s strong positioning in trading in the region. Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean is an additional attraction when it comes to building trade ties. Therefore, Sri Lanka presents the ideal destination for foreign businesses/investors to set up base to engage with other countries in the region using the preferential treatment enjoyed by Sri Lanka with many countries in the region.
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