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Long road towards Malaysia-Sri Lanka FTA

Business Times, Malaysia

Long road towards Malaysia-Sri Lanka FTA

5 July 2006

COLOMBO: (Bernama) Sri Lanka has proposed a free trade agreement (FTA) or preferential trade pact with Malaysia, but the two countries are a long way towards reaching a final decision, a Sri Lankan corporate leader said.

Rohitha Silva, president of the Sri Lanka-Malaysia Business Council, said on Monday that Sri Lanka’s Trade Ministry and the Board of Investment (BOI) had mooted such a trade pact between the two countries, but it was taking a long time to materialise.

He was speaking during a meeting here organised by the council, which is affiliated to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and the visiting Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM).

Silva said the CCC and several institutions were also lobbying for free entry visa into Malaysia.

He also said that the Sri Lanka- Malaysia Business Council has an award scheme to recognise businessmen who have excelled in business and trade between the two countries.

The second annual ceremony of this scheme is scheduled to be held in September this year.

Meanwhile, CCC assistant secretary-general Malcolm Atton invited Malaysian investors to make use of the FTAs which Sri Lanka has signed with India and Pakistan.

It is an opportunity for Malaysian investors to gain access to the markets of India and Pakistan, he told the meeting.

According to Atton, the FTAs provide beneficial tax concessions for companies entering the Indian and Pakistani markets.

ACCCIM secretary-general Tan Sri Soong Siew Hoong said the Malaysian delegation was looking at improving trade relations between the two countries and hoped to engage in the transfer of technology.

He said Malaysia was ready to help Sri Lanka in innovative ventures such as developing petrol from palm oil.

Sri Lanka should consider establishing a biodiesel plant as part of solutions to its fuel crisis, he added.

Soong also said that there was a need for the Government to become more investor-friendly.

In a presentation on industrialisation and small- and medium- scale enterprise development, an area Sri Lanka is keen to develop, he said organisations that deal with areas such as urban development should have representatives from the private sector.

The Malaysian delegation is looking for business tie-ups in the energy, information technology and consumer durable product sectors. - Bernama