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Prime Minister proposes immediately initiating bilateral discussions on an FTA with China

Colombo Page - 26 April 2022

Prime Minister proposes immediately initiating bilateral discussions on an FTA with China

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa has suggested to the Cabinet that bilateral talks with China on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) be resumed immediately.

Bilateral discussions between China and Sri Lanka on a Free Trade Agreement which began in 2014 have stalled since 2017 after six rounds of talks.

The Prime Minister has also recommended that a discussion and a negotiation committee consisting of relevant parties be appointed for this purpose.

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador in Colombo Qi Zhenhong has said that the Secretary to Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa had been assigned to arrange the Sri Lankan negotiation team.

Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong in a dialogue with a group of local journalists Monday has said Sri Lanka should realize the FTA with China to overcome the current difficulties in the long run.

The Chinese Ambassador meeting with the journalists discussed a wide range of topics including China’s aid to Sri Lanka, financial and economic cooperation to overcome current crisis, people-to-people exchanges etc. the Chinese Embassy said.

The Ambassador has told the journalists that the Chinese Debt Trap is only a myth, created and hyped by some foreign media & politicians intentionally.

He has noted that in 2017, Sri Lanka decided to raise dollars by leasing out the Hambantota Port to China and used the cash infusion to pay back due International Sovereign Bonds, but not to Chinese banks.

The Ambassador has pointed out that despite the current challenges in Sri Lanka, China supports continuous progress in bilateral practical cooperation projects including Port City Colombo, Hambantota Port & Industrial Park etc., so as to help Sri Lanka to achieve sustainable development in the future.

 source: Colombo Page