Sri Lanka should review TPP agreement and its impact: Harsha De Silva

Nov 11, 2015 (LBO) – Sri Lanka should review and consider the Trans–Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement as an enabler to enter into global competitive markets as signaled in Prime Minister’s statement, Deputy Minister Harsha De Silva said.

“We haven’t started to talk about this yet. But TPP is one of the most important trade partnership in the world,” he told reporters on Monday.

“Canada, America, Mexico, Chili, Australia, New Zealand and Japan have already joined this. Through this agreement they are making a framework on how to do business within the countries.”

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a controversial trade agreement among Pacific Rim countries concerning a variety of matters of economic policy, about which agreement was reached on 5 October 2015 after seven years of negotiations. Individual countries are now in the process of ratifying it.

The 12 countries involved are: the US, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Chile and Peru.

They have a collective population of about 800 million, almost double that of the European Union single market and accounts for 40 percent of world trade.

The goal of the agreement has been to: promote economic growth; support the creation and retention of jobs; enhance innovation, productivity and competitiveness; raise living standards; reduce poverty in our countries; and promote transparency, good governance, and enhanced labor and environmental protections.

While lowering trade barriers, the TPP also aims at having a common framework for intellectual property, labour and environmental law and investor protection and dispute settlement with states.

De Silva added that Sri Lanka might face difficulties as investors may pull out investments from the island and move to Vietnam which signed the TPP recently.

“Vietnam also has joined TPP and with that Sri Lanka may lose competitiveness in the global economy,” De Silva said.

“We have already seen that foreign investors who were ready to invest and investors who are investing in Sri Lanka currently are moving towards Vietnam due to the benefits as a TPP country.”

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe making an policy statement in Parliament recently said that Sri Lanka needs to able to carefully address the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under which tax free garment export opportunities have been given to countries such as Vietnam.

“This has enabled them to engage in competitive markets and supply the American, Chinese and Japanese markets at low rates,” Wickremesinghe said.

“This may also affect exports from Sri Lanka in the future. TPP must therefore be reviewed further.”