Sri Lanka will ink FTA with Thailand in Q1 says Cabinet Spokesman.
Daily FT: The Government has said the impending free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand will be inked within the first quarter of the year, to boost exports from the country by three folds to $ 1.5 billion.
“Sri Lanka lacks FTAs with countries and that is one of the key reasons why we have not been able to boost our exports over time. The objective of the Government is to boost exports from the current $ 550 million to $ 1.5 billion via Sri Lanka and Thailand FTA,” Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Banduala Gunawardena said at the post-Cabinet meeting media briefing recently.
The move came following the third round of discussions held early last month where a delegation headed by Thailand Trade Negotiations Department Director-General Auramon Supthaweethum held talks with Sri Lankan officials.
Gunawardena also said President Ranil Wickremesinghe briefed the Cabinet of Ministers recently on the progress of the discussions between the two countries, including the deal with trade in goods and services, investment rules, customs cooperation, trade facilitation and economic cooperation.
Inking the FTA with Thailand is the first step to joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement and a step towards strengthening traditional ties with the country.
“Sri Lanka is famous for missed opportunities. These missed opportunities have cost the economy severely. Unfinished trade ties have impacted our export earnings with prices and easy access to markets. This is a critical factor why our exports have not been able to unleash their full potential,” he explained.
Given the current economic crisis, he said this FTA would help the country to embrace internationalisation as the basis for growth and allow exporters to find new opportunities in diverse foreign markets.
“Bilateral, regional and multilateral trade and investment agreements encourage boosting foreign inflows which is critical for Sri Lanka right now. These FTA are tools to boost the foreign inflows into the country,” he added.
Sri Lanka and Thailand initiated the proposal in 2016, and the negotiations commenced in 2018 with two rounds of discussions in the same year, whilst the third round of discussion concluded in January 2023.
Sri Lanka enjoys many trade agreements as well as trade concessions with many countries in the region as well as outside the region. The government of Sri Lanka is also working on revisiting the country’s existing trade agreements in order to review and further expand them in order to further strengthen Sri Lanka’s trade sector. Given Sri Lanka’s geographical positioning in the Indian Ocean and the strong trade ties, the country presents an ideal base in the South Asian region for foreign businesses/investors to set up base to engage with the Asian region. With Sri Lanka’s economy also on the expansion path, foreign businesses/investors could confidently explore the growing opportunities in the country.
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