Daily News - 11 October 2023
Sri Lanka to sign FTA with Malaysia in February
Sri Lanka will sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Malaysia when President Ranil Wickremesinghe visits the country in February, said visiting Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Zambry Abd Kadir at a special CEO Forum hosted by Malaysia Sri Lanka Business Council (SLMBC) on Monday.
He said that the discussion in this regard had been going on for the past 5 years and it got delayed due to the COVID pandemic and other reasons. “This time both countries are keen to ink this FTA, ASAP.”
Kadir said that while Malaysia is keen to ink an FTA with many countries, they are also aggressively working towards attracting more forging director investments to the country. “In this regard we signed a USD 8.8 billion deal with UAE for Green Energy and another USD 5 billion FDI agreement with China for a electric vehicle project”
“We are also keen to increase trade cooperation with Sri Lanka and see many growth areas where both countries could reap economic benefits. Currently Malaysia is Sri Lanka’s sixth largest investor. Malaysia will also support Sri Lanka’s application to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ,” he said.
Foreign Minister Ali Sabry said that the government is very keen to have more FTAs and said that the country will ink FTAs with Thailand and China as well. “In addition we are also looking at wooing more FDI to Sri Lanka. He disclosed that currently an investor after signing the investment agreement with the Board of Investment has to get 26 approvals and this is not practical. The Government this year will soon set up a special ‘One Stop Shop Unit’ attached to the Presidential Secretariat to clear Red tape and speed up approvals.”
He also said that though the post of Minister of Finance is a much sought after slot there were no takes for it during the economic crisis and he undertook it for several months and met officials of IMF as well.
Sabry recalled Sri Lanka, from a huge economic crisis, has recovered to a great extent and they are expecting the second tranche of IMF soon. “Though unpleasant, we have to implement some suggestions spelt out by the IMF or the country will go back to a worse situation than the previous economic crisis and fall in par with countries like Lebanon or Venezuela.”
“Sri Lankan geographical location has economic advantages for aviation, maritime and logistics but disadvantages when it comes to geo politics as the country has to carefully manage interests of large countries like China and India. He said Malaysian investors should look at local investment opportunities in tourism, education and Pharma manufacturing in Sri Lanka.