New US Trade Rep assures no major changes in trade policy on Sri Lanka

US-Trade-Rep-Mark-Linscott

Sep 18, 2017 (LBO) – The United States has stressed that there shall be no major change in its trade policy towards Sri Lanka in the aftermath of its new administration, Island’s Commerce Ministry said.

During a meeting with Ministry officials, Washington DC based new Assistant US Trade Representative for South and Central Asian Affairs, Mark Linscott however has said that it is tough to predict the future.

“The new US administration has a significant shift in change towards several of its trade agreements-mainly the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal; and there is a big focus on re-negotiating NAFTA as well as correcting our current trade deficits too,” Linscott said.

“Despite this I am not expecting any significant changes in bilateral trade with Sri Lanka or our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Sri Lanka.”

The US-Sri Lanka Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was signed in July 2002 in Washington D.C., to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries.

Linscott has hinted stronger bilateral economic relations in the future under TIFA, to which Colombo consented readily on 18 September.

“We are looking to move on from the past and create a special (trade) plan for Sri Lanka on TIFA,” he stressed.

“We definitely want to see TIFA’s follow up on the progress achieved in Washington. I appreciate this frank exchange of ideas with the Ministry in my first visit to Sri Lanka.”

Linscott has also emphasised that being a hub in the region, it is a remarkably exciting time for Sri Lanka and share the interest in working with Sri Lanka and exploiting natural advantages for better trade.

“WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) would bring immediate international attention if Sri Lanka moves ahead while I agree that these are challenging initiatives for the country,” he said.

“We are pleased of the government’s Private Public Partnership vision which TIFA too stresses about. US is the largest export market for Sri Lanka but our exports to Sri Lanka have not increased in parallel and is down the list, something we need to work on.”

In 2016, 27.5 percent of total Lankan annual exports headed to US while 2.77 percent of total imports from the world to Sri Lanka were from the US.

Assistant US Trade Representative Linscott was meeting Commerce Ministry team on 18 September in Colombo led by Secretary Chinthaka Lokuhetti representing Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.