‘Govt keen on clinching Free Trade Agreement with US’

By Hiran H. Senewiratne

The government is absolutely keen on regaining the lost EU GSP Plus trade arrangement and on promoting several free trade agreements with US and other countries to increase exports and investments, which have now dropped significantly, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Harsh de Silva said.

"We are now in the process of negotiating with USA to get the Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement (TIFA), apart from the EU GSP plus trade arrangement, to increase exports in the country. Because both markets are huge we have tremendous opportunity to focus on exports to those regions, "Dr de Silva said at the Sundown Meeting 2015 organized by the Sri Lanka Apparel Sourcing Association at JAIC Hilton on Thursday.

The theme of the event was "The New Economic Trend in the Apparel Sector and the Government's Plans to Boost Economic Diplomacy and Obtain GSP plus and Updates on Free Trade Agreements".

He said that trade and investment is the way forward and the government is very keen on working on the existing Free Trade Agreements with India and Pakistan to attract investment and enhance local exports.

De Silva said that the new government is promoting bilateral and multilateral trade agreements to improve integrated relationships with other countries to take the country to the next level.

"Today Sri Lanka is in a sad predicament when we look around the world and we have not achieved much, even though certain economic indicators of our's, like life expectancy and infant motility, are good. But we only compare and benchmark with poor countries and satisfy ourselves, he said.

Deputy Minister said that Sri Lanka has to look for reforms especially in land, education and labor, for the country to move forward and must create a highly skilled social market economy in the next five years.

The government will have to take tough decisions on reforms in order to take the country to the next level and become a competent economy in the next few years, de Silva said.

Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne told the forum that Sri Lanka has qualified and met all EU standards and requirements to obtain GSP Plus next year.

She said that the most important thing to do at this juncture is promote the Trans Pacific Agreement with the US, because 25 percent of total Sri Lankan exports go to the USA. "This is considered to be a great market for us, but the national interest is paramount when it comes to negotiating negative lists in FTA’s, she said.

"In future we are planning to go for new FTAs with Japan, Korea, BRICS countries and many more, she added.

animated gif
Processing Request
Please Wait...