FTA talks with Sri Lanka begin

FTA talks with Sri Lanka begin

Colombo: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and Maithripala Sirisena, president of Sri Lanka, yesterday jointly announced the first round of free trade agreement talks after meeting in Colombo.

The first round is scheduled to begin today, with trade negotiators hashing out the details.

Sri Lanka and Thailand first began considering an FTA in 2016, when Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak made an official visit.

The two countries signed a MoU on technical cooperation, a letter of intent on cooperation in small and medium-sized enterprise development and a joint programme on tourism for 2016-18.

Sri Lanka is the fourth-largest trading partner of Thailand in South Asia. During 2013-17, bilateral trade between Thailand and Sri Lanka averaged $491 million a year. Last year, bilateral trade totalled $513 million, up 8.7% from 2016. Thai exports accounted for $442.3 million and imports were worth $70.5 million.

Kalin Sarasin, chairman of the Thai Chamber of Commerce, said Gen Prayut's visit signified Thailand's commitment to expanding bilateral trade and investment.

Although two-way trade volume remains relatively small, Mr Kalin said the MoU will help Thai entrepreneurs increase trade and investment in various sectors, including infrastructure.

Thailand also clinched a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a strategic partnership with Sri Lanka. The move is intended to raise bilateral trade value to US$1.5 billion (49.2 billion baht) in 2020.

Deputy Commerce Minister Chutima Bunyapraphasara, representing the Thai government, signed the MoU with Malik Samarawickrama, Sri Lanka's development strategies and international trade minister.

The strategic partnership will cover 10 sectors: investment, infrastructure, development of the agro-industry, fisheries, gems and jewellery, tourism, SMEs, financial cooperation, packaging industries and IT sector development. The MoU also covers other sectors of mutual economic interest.

Ms Chutima said the participants will later task the subcommittee on trade-related matters with facilitating effective implementation of the provisions of the MoU.

The subcommittee on trade-related matters will meet annually to: decide on joint procedures and formulate a concrete action framework to facilitate the execution of the provisions of the MoU; identify various means to enhance economic strategic partnership between the two countries; and identify obstacles to effective cooperation and propose measures to eliminate them.

The committee will also be tasked with: reviewing the level of implementation of the action framework on a regular basis; providing information and necessary documents required by the MoU; exchanging views on macroeconomic issues in both countries; reviewing existing areas of cooperation and identifying new ones; and deciding on issues arising from the interpretation or implementation of the document.

She said the MoU is also expected to help stimulate Thai investment in Sri Lanka, increasing from $700 million.

The Thai Chamber of Commerce yesterday also signed an MoU with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Do you like the content of this article?
COMMENT

Talks set to start on berry pickers' plight

The Ministry of Labour will start talks with the Swedish embassy in Thailand, after it threatened to suspend issuing seasonal working visas to Thai berry pickers following reports of unfair treatment by employers and job brokers, it said on Monday.

08:14

Anudit joins TST anti-graft team

Anudit Nakornthap will join the Thai Sang Thai Party (TST) and serve as its anti-graft director, the party says.

07:15

One pill limit

A ministerial regulation is being amended so that anyone with more than one methamphetamine pill in possession will be regarded as having the pills with intent to sell.

06:02