SRI LANKA, SINGAPORE FTA SEALED

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister, Malik Samarawickrema and Singapore Trade and Industry Minister, S. Iswaran signing the Free Trade Agreement on behalf of their respective governments, in the presence of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Lee and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe. Pictures by Sudath Silva

Sri Lanka entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Singapore at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday (23), making it the first trade agreement that Sri Lanka has signed in the last decade.

This was the key event of the three day official visit of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who is in the country on the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena.The signing of the agreement was preceded by bilateral talks held between the two countries.

The FTA will boost trade between the two countries and will be the first comprehensive agreement for Sri Lanka beyond the trade in goods.

It covers the areas of services, investment, sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) measures and technical barriers to trade (TBT), trade remedies and dispute settlement, customs cooperation and trade facilitation, economic and technological cooperation, government procurement, e-commerce and intellectual property rights.

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister, Malik Samarawickrama and Singapore Trade and Industry Minister, S. Iswaran signed the Free Trade Agreement on behalf of their respective Governments, in the presence of President Sirisena, Prime Minister Lee and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe.

This is also the first FTA with a South East Asian country and according to the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade, it is part of a wider ‘Look East’ strategy. While Singapore is not a major trading partner of Sri Lanka, it is believed that it will provide the country with a gateway to other ASEAN countries and their markets.

Negotiations for an FTA with Singapore started in August 2016 in the wake of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s official visit to the country in July of that year.

In 2016 bilateral trade volume (goods) stood at USD 1.15 billion and it is hoped that the FTA would expand this further, accruing benefits to both countries.

 

 

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