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PM lauds FTA with Singapore

President of the National Chamber of Commerce Sujeewa Samaraweera presenting the Chamber’s 59th annual report to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe at an event held at the Kingsbury Hotel yesterday. Picture by Hirantha Gunathilaka

Shortly after the government signed a new Free Trade Agreement with Singapore, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said Sri Lanka must make even more deals to its economy to grow.

“For every foreign investment, there are Sri Lankan rupees earned,” he said. “There is a lot of hope in this agreement,” the Prime Minister said

The Prime Minister was speaking at the 59th Annual General Meeting of the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka at the Kingsbury Hotel last evening.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that the government was already negotiating a new Free Trade Agreement with India.

“The main point is the removal of non-tariff barriers,” he said.

“Another trade deal with China is in the works,” the Prime Minister added.

“(There) is a market of over 3.5 billion people at our door step,” he said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that in order for businesses to succeed there must be a paradigm shift “to make our economy more outward-looking.” He added that politics should not get in the way of development.

“This government finally wants Sri Lanka to be successful,” he said.

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said that the Anti-Dumping Bill, which would ensure that best practices are implemented in following free trade agreements, would appear in Parliament this week, and that he expected it to pass.

“The government had originally wanted the bill passed before signing the deal with Singapore,” the Premier said.

Speaking of last year’s deal to lease part of the Hambantota port to China, the Prime Minister said the Port had been a “white elephant.”

“Now we’ve come to a joint venture agreement,the Hambantota harbour will be taken over,” he said. “Of the $1.3 billion repaid, we have already been paid $200 million … and additional $600 million has been requested.”

“If the deal sparks new developments like an oil refinery, in the end, “you yourself will be compensated,” he said.