Thailand-Sri Lanka free trade negotiations to conclude next week.
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations are set to conclude next week and the accord will be signed in February next year, official sources said.,
A progressive tariff reduction roadmap for the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will be enforced over a 15-year timeframe.
Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardana said that under this FTA, an impressive 80% of tariff lines will be liberalized over 15 years.
Sri Lanka and Thailand aim to sign the bilateral FTA on 3 February 2024 to coincide with the Independence Day celebrations of the former on 4 February after the completion of the rounds of discussions in this regard by December 2023.
“In line with the accords established during rounds six and seven aforementioned discussions, the Cabinet of Ministers has opted to endorse Sri Lanka’s customs levy releasing program,” he added.
The roadmap aims to facilitate the release of 80% of the combined categorized serial numbers within a 15-year timeframe, referencing the serial numbers from 2022.
In addition, it approves the partial release of 5% of the combined categorized serial numbers during the span of 15 to 18 years. The remaining 15% of the combined categorized serial numbers will be included in the negative list.
Chotima lemsawasdikul, director-general of the Thailand’s Trade Negotiations Department, said Thai and Sri Lankan officials are slated to meet Nov 27-29 this year for the eighth round of FTA talks, with Thailand hosting the discussions, the Bangkok Post reported.
The negotiations aim to reach a substantial conclusion, with another round of talks in December hosted by Sri Lanka, she said.
Despite Sri Lanka’s relatively small size and population of only 22 million, studies by the department found the country holds an important geographic position in the Indian Ocean, making it a hub for maritime transport, the report said.
The island also possesses an abundance of natural resources, such as precious minerals and seafood.
A Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA is projected to expand Thailand’s economy by 0.02%, equivalent to US$80 million. This includes the expansion of investments and the value of Thai exports to Sri Lanka, the Bangkok Post reports.
Products that could benefit from the pact include automobiles and auto components, machinery, electrical appliances, metals, sugar and plastics, according to the department.
Industries in which Thailand could expand its investments in Sri Lanka include processed foods, beverages, textiles, garments and jewellery.
Two-way trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka amounted to $358 million in 2022, down 16.5% from 2021. Thailand exported goods worth $271 million to Sri Lanka and imported goods valued at $86.9 million.
In the first nine months of this year, two-way trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka tallied $285 million, up 1.79% year-on-year, with exports from Thailand worth roughly $188 million, a decrease of 12.4%, according to the Bangkok Post.