Economy Next - 26 October 2023
Sri Lanka looks to create more trade agreements with Asia
Sri Lanka is looking beyond strengthening ties with its largest traditional export destinations, the USA and the EU/UK, to deeper integration with South Asia, South East Asia and East Asia nations.
Sri Lanka is engaged in Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) negotiations with Bangladesh, with an emphasis on trade in goods, a statement from the president’s media division said.
The next step involves both countries exchanging their initial offer lists in preparation for subsequent rounds of negotiations.
“Sri Lanka’s engagement with ASEAN countries is on the rise through free trade agreements. Ongoing negotiations are taking place with other ASEAN countries, including Thailand and Indonesia, with the goal of expanding trade cooperation across various sectors,” the statement read.
Currently, Sri Lanka has bilateral trade agreements in place with India (India Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement – ISLFTA) and Pakistan (Pakistan Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement – PSFTA), with a primary focus on trade in goods.
The government is set to enter its 12th round of negotiations on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India, which has a broader scope than ISLFTA.
Sri Lanka also has access to South Asian markets through regional trading agreements, such as the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) and the SAARC Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA).
The country entered into a free trade agreement with Singapore in January 2018, which came into force in May that year.
Sri Lanka is also in discussions with China to resume negotiations for a proposed FTA, aiming to gain market access for selected Sri Lankan products in China. Six rounds of negotiations have concluded.
The government submitted its Letter of Intention to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which would establish economic integration with ASEAN, Oceania and East Asia.