Saturday, April 1, 2023

Sri Lanka to ink proposed FTA with Thailand in first quarter

The government expects to sign the free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand within this quarter, expediting the FTA process.

The Cabinet of Ministers on Monday approved the proposal to expedite the FTA with Thailand.

According to the Cabinet Spokesperson Bandula Gunawardana, President Ranil Wickremesinghe expressed his intentions to ink the FTA with Thailand before end of this quarter.

The negotiations for the proposed FTA between the two nations commenced in 2018. However, the negotiations were halted for nearly five years and only resumed in Colombo last month.

Despite various political opinions, Gunawardana stressed that Sri Lanka’s exporters are becoming noncompetitive in the global market due to lack of market access through trade agreements. 

“If we don’t enter into FTAs, it becomes difficult for our exporters to compete in the global market. If we want to move forward with the world pragmatically and practically, we need to enter into FTAs and that’s the reality,” he stressed.
The proposed FTA is expected to increase Sri Lanka’s current annual export of US$ 550 million to Thailand to US$ 1.5 billion.

The Minister noted that tourism and investments would also be key components of the proposed FTA. Considering the historical religious ties between two nations, he highlighted that Buddhist pilgrimages have been identified as a key potential growth area.

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