Colombo Gazette | 6 February 2024
China – Sri Lanka FTA talks stall following disagreements
Talks between China and Sri Lanka on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) have stalled following disagreements on certain issues.
Officials said that China was more flexible in the negotiations after the last round of discussions held in 2018 stalled following some disagreements.
However, Speaking at a press briefing titled “Collective Path to a Stable Country” held at the President Media Centre (PMC), Tuesday, officials said that the latest negotiations had also stalled as there were disagreements on some issues, including on the level of liberalization.
China wants Sri Lanka to liberalise 90% of tariff lines and the value but Sri Lanka has disagreed.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka had proposed a review of a 20-year tariff liberalisation program on the 10th year which China disagreed with, officials said.
Officials said that Sri Lanka and China are now drafting new proposals following which talks will look to resume.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ali Sabry emphasized the importance of strengthening and carrying forward President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s program to establish FTAs with other countries. He believes this is crucial to ensure Sri Lanka’s economic stability and prevent future downturns.
Minister Sabry elaborated on the Government’s plans to establish FTAs with India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and China by the end of 2024. He expressed optimism that these agreements will open up new markets for Sri Lankan businesses, contributing directly to the nation’s economic growth.
Minister Sabry highlighted the recent FTA with Thailand as a historic step towards achieving President Wickremesinghe’s vision of a stable economy. He emphasized that this agreement has already provided Sri Lanka access to a USD 2.2 billion market, representing a significant advancement.