Thailand PM to visit Sri Lanka in February 2024 to sign FTA
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is set to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Thailand during Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin visit to Sri Lanka in February 2024.
Thailand free trade agreement (FTA) wukk be finalized in February 2024 following the latest round of talks between the two countries, according to the Thailand Commerce Ministry.
Tariff cuts under FTAs come as an outcome of negotiation between the two countries, unlike in the case of multilateral liberalisation under the World Trade Organization.
Tariff cuts may not take place instantaneously according to tariff concessions offered under a number of FTAs recently signed by Thailand.
In all cases, the actual tariff cuts have fallen well short of initial expectations. Domestic protectionist lobby plays an important role in determining the actual outcome of FTAs.
Chotima Iemsawasdikul, director-general of the ministry’s Department of Trade Negotiations, told the media that Sri Lanka hosted the ninth round of FTA negotiations with Thailand on Dec 18–20, which was attended by Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the Department of Business Development and adviser to the FTA negotiation team.
FTA negotiations between the countries resumed in November after they were put on hold for four years due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ongoing restructuring of Sri Lanka’s government agencies.
Ms Chotima said the latest round of talks agreed on rules on trade, services, investments and economic cooperation.
The Commerce Ministry will submit the results to the cabinet for approval before the premier travels to Sri Lanka to sign the agreement in February, as per an invitation by Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe, she said.
Despite being a small country of 22 million people, Sri Lanka plays a significant role in maritime freight in the Indian Ocean, and it is home to abundant natural resources, such as gemstones, graphite and aquatic animals, she said.
Many industries in Thailand will benefit from the FTA, including those in automotive, fashion, gems, metal, electronic goods, machinery, rubber gloves, pet food and corn, she said, adding the FTA will also benefit service firms, including those in finance, insurance, tourism and research and development.
From January to October this year, the value of two-way trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka was worth US$320.37 million (about 10.9 billion baht).
Thailand exported goods worth $213.49 million, while it imported goods worth $106.88 million from Sri Lanka.
The much-anticipated Sheraton Colombo Hotel, part of the world’s largest hotel chain Marriott International, is expected to be officially opened today.