Posted on 09.19.2018 by Chandana Sirimalwatte in Local News with 0 Comments
Amidst of protest with regard to Free Trade Agreements signed with other economies around Indian ocean region, Lankan government is pursuing the negotiations for further bilateral agreements in order to attract foreign direct investment, sources reveal.
Latest is that the negotiation on a Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on the way planned to conclude by 2020. Thailand Nation, the newspaper based in Bangkok, quotes Auramon Supthaweethum, Director-General at the Thailand’s Department of Trade Negotiations that Thailand will host the second Thai-Sri Lanka FTA negotiations from Wednesday(today) until Friday.
The first panel will work on trade in goods between Thailand and Sri Lanka and will focus on negotiating tariff reduction, Thai newspaper further explains. Sri Lanka is Thailand’s fourth-largest trading partner in South Asia. Thai-Sri Lankan trade was valued at $319.6 million from January to July this year, with Thailand enjoying a large trade surplus with Sri Lanka. Apart from opening markets to boost trade in goods, Thailand will also place emphasis on trade in services as Thai investors have a growing interest to invest in Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.
Even now, Thai investors have investing in Sri Lanka without the FTA, hence, with the FTA, issues such as investing in established businesses, cooperation negotiations and buying Sri Lankan stocks will become more convenient. Sri Lanka presents a good trading opportunity for Thailand because it is beginning to open up its economy to foreign investors. Thailand aims to increase bilateral trade to $1.5 billion by 2020.
During the July visit by Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand it was agreed to push talks towards a Free Trade Agreement which, if successful, can increase bilateral trade value to US$1.5 billion (Rs 250.06million).
Annual trade value in 2017 was $512.74 million (Rs. 85.5 billion). Thailand’s main exports to Sri Lanka include dried fish, woven cloth, sugar, automobile parts and para rubber. Thailand imports jewellery, silver bars, gold, plant products, ready-to-wear clothes, aquatic animals and electrical parts. The FTA dialogue started last year but the memorandum of understanding on Strategic Economic Partnership signed on Friday between the two countries is expected to add momentum to the efforts. The MoU was eportedly among four papers signed by the two countries during Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena.They also discussed possible maritime connectivity between Colombo and the Thai province of Rayong, connecting the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation transportation master plan.