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MALAYSIA TO SPEED UP FTA TALKS

President Maithripala Sirisena hosted visiting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to lunch at the President’s House in Colombo Fort yesterday. Prime Minister Razak who is on a three day official visit signed several bilateral co-operation agreements with Sri Lanka, before the luncheon meeting. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and several ministers were also present on the occasion. Picture by Sudath Silva

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak speaking to President Maithripala Sirisena said Malaysia would explore every possibility to ensure the increase Sri Lankan exports to Malaysia.

Malaysia has invested US$ 3.1 billion in 47 projects in Sri Lanka and Malaysian entrepreneurs are looking into many sectors of potential investments, the Prime Minister said.

Premier Razak said bilateral trade had steadily grown in the last few years and during the first 10 months of this year, bilateral trade has reached US$680 million. However trade was heavily balanced in Malaysia’s favour.

Hence, Malaysia would explore every possibility to ensure the increase of Sri Lankan exports to Malaysia, he assured.

The Prime Minister said the proposed Free Trade Agreement would be useful to further expand trade and said his ministers would take steps to speed up talks on FTA.

President Sirisena who thanked the Malaysian Prime Minister for the continuous support extended to Sri Lanka at the UNHRC and other international fora, expressed his agreement to the Malaysian PM’s view.

The two leaders also agreed to improve relations in the fields of trade and investment, agriculture, science and technology including nano and bio technology, 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 bilateral talks held between the two leaders, in which, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and a number of Malaysian and Sri Lankan ministers also participated. The bilateral meeting was held at the Presidential Secretariat, yesterday (18).

The Prime Minister of Malaysia undertook this official visit to Sri Lanka to mark the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and a special stamp and a First day Cover were issued to mark this occasion.

Two Memorandums of Understanding on Training of Diplomats and Cooperation in Foresight and Science-2-Action and Memorandum of Collaboration between Coordinating Secretariat for Science, Technology and Innovation of Sri Lanka and Malaysian Bio-economy Development Cooperation SDN BHD were signed between the two countries.

Ministers John Amaratunge, Tilak Marapana, Rajitha Senaratne, Susil Premajayantha, Malik Samarawickrema, Gayantha Karunatilake and Thalatha Athukorale, Secretaries to the President and Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary and several Malaysian Ministers, advisors and senior officials were present during the bilateral discussion.