Home » Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement comes under scrutiny of experts

Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement comes under scrutiny of experts


By: Staff Writer

March 07, Colombo (LNW): The negotiating team of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA) and industry experts recently discussed the FTA and its impact on Sri Lanka’s economic growth, at a knowledge session organised by The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Duminda Hulangamuwa, Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber, while stressing the importance of facing global market competitiveness, emphasised that Sri Lanka needs to explore and leverage agreements strategically to be competitive with countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, China, and Singapore.

He asserted that sustained international trade growth can lead to an 8 to 9 percent economic growth rate, and the nation cannot rely on 2 to 3 percent growth.

Chief Negotiator, K J Weerasinghe, on the other hand, underscored the need to align with the government’s vision for global market access and attracting investments.

He outlined a three-pillar strategy focusing on protecting and promoting existing trade partnerships with the US and European Union, expanding market access in South Asia with countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and India, and increasing market access in East Asia with Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Drawing similarities with Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Agreements with Thailand and Singapore, Ms. Renuka Weerakoon, DG, BOI and Head of Investment Chapter, highlighted the comprehensiveness of these FTAs, covering areas such as trade facilitation, services, proceedings, Sanitary and PhytoSanitary (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), investment, trade remedies and intellectual property.

She emphasized that FTAs are crucial for Sri Lanka, given its small domestic market, and can lead to increased market access, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), job opportunities, foreign exchange, innovation, technology transfer, and international trade networks.

Deshal de Mel, Advisor, Ministry of Finance and Head of Trade in Services Chapter, emphasised that the SLTFTA is part of a broader strategy to drive qualitative changes in Sri Lanka’s economic growth.

He highlighted the importance of FTAs in the economic recovery strategy and the need for Sri Lanka to integrate into global and regional value chains.

He observed that the non-tradable sector has dominated Sri Lanka’s economic growth, and moving forward, the country needs to move into non-debt- creating avenues and diversifying its exports beyond traditional products.

He noted that FTAs provide open access to regional trade value chains and create opportunities to participate in regional trade agreements to drive sustainable economic growth.

Dr. Asanka Wijesinghe, Research Fellow, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), highlighted research findings from the IPS which indicate that the Sri Lanka-Thailand FTA could increase Sri Lanka’s exports by 38% through tariff elimination.

He emphasised the importance of Sri Lanka focusing on manufacturing, apparel, rubber products, and food products under FTAs, as these sectors have high tariffs in Thailand, offering significant export potential. 

What’s your Reaction?

Leave a Comment

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture.
You can enter the Tamil word or English word but not both
Anti-Spam Image