June 10, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka now needs a comprehensive system of trade agreements as 50 percent of global trade is in fact dependent on trade agreements, the international trade minister said.
Currently, Sri Lanka has trade agreements with India and Pakistan and in the future it is proposed to have an agreement with China.
Minister Malik Samarawickrama told the Sri Lanka Singapore business forum that efforts will be made to eliminate some of the tariffs in the near future.
“Sri Lanka does have many advantages such as an excellent location and excellent ports,” Samarawickrama said.
“Sri Lanka will therefore build up its macro-economic fundamentals and create new trade frameworks with the aim of boosting exports.”
Samarawickrama said customs have been modernized through the introduction of ASYCUDA and the One Stop shop at the Central Customs Clearance Unit.
The Minister added that Sri Lanka has not yet attracted very much FDI when compared to South East Asian countries and the government’s policy is to develop the country to make it much more competitive.
Sri Lankan officials are currently working on an FTA with Singapore as such measures will benefit Sri Lankan exporters and also consumers who will have access to better quality goods at low prices.
Singapore had invested altogether 530 million US dollars in Sri Lanka and interestingly Sri Lankan companies have invested 120 million US dollars in Singapore.
Singapore has benefited considerably through FTAs and is connected to the ASEAN region which is growing at 5 percent annually.
Minister Samarawickrama further stated that a 5-year programme to increase trade and investment with the US will be launched later this year.