Thai-Sri Lanka FTA talks launched; USD1.5bn mutual trade expected by 2020

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July 13, 2018 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and Thailand on Friday officially declared the launch of negotiations for the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

The first round of negotiations was held in Colombo with the blessings of the Thailand Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-Cha who paid an official visit to Sri Lanka.

Releasing a joint statement, the Foreign Ministry said both sides have expressed confidence in attaining the envisaged objectives through this comprehensive instrument.

With regard to trade and investment relations, both leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade volume to 1.5 billion US dollars by the year 2020, together with achieving an equitable trade balance.

Both sides have also agreed on the need to enhance investment flows between the two countries, the joint statement added.

Joint Press Statement

Official Visit of His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

12-13 July 2018

His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-Cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand, and his delegation paid an Official Visit to the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka from 12 to 13 July 2018 at the invitation of His Excellency Maithripala Sirisena, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister of Thailand and the President of Sri Lanka had bilateral discussions on 12 July 2018, covering a wide range of issues including political, economic, technical, agricultural, fisheries, cultural, religious, tourism, as well as regional and multilateral cooperation. The two leaders noted with satisfaction the continued close and cordial relations between Thailand and Sri Lanka. Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthen the existing ties to a higher level of strategic economic partnership. During the discussions, the two leaders also recalled the successful outcome of the Official Visit of the President of Sri Lanka to Thailand in November 2015.

The President of Sri Lanka reiterated to the Prime Minister of Thailand that Sri Lanka is pleased to present a sapling of the sacred Sri Maha Bodhi tree as a gesture of goodwill to bless the reign of His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun and the people of the Kingdom of Thailand, signifying the long-standing historic, religious and cultural ties between the two countries. The Prime Minister of Thailand graciously welcomed the offer and informed that necessary preparations were underway to ensure that appropriate arrangements are made for the Sacred Gifting Ceremony.

With regard to trade and investment relations, both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to increase bilateral trade volume to USD 1.5 billion by the year 2020, together with achieving an equitable trade balance. Both sides also agreed on the need to enhance investment flows between the two countries. On this occasion, both leaders jointly declared the launch of the Thailand – Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations. Both sides expressed confidence in attaining the envisaged objectives through this comprehensive instrument. The first round of negotiations was held on 13 July 2018 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The two leaders witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Strategic Economic Partnership between the two countries, which would serve as an important mechanism to enhance bilateral economic cooperation in ten priority sectors. In this context both sides agreed that a Joint Action Plan be drafted at the next Thailand – Sri Lanka Sub-Committee on Trade Related Matters Meeting, which is scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka.

The Prime Minister of Thailand informed the President of Sri Lanka about the keen interest among Thai companies to invest in Sri Lanka. The President of Sri Lanka welcomed their interest, and the two leaders discussed ways and means to further encourage and facilitate more investments from Thailand to Sri Lanka.

On the area of technical cooperation, both sides witnessed the signing of the “Joint Action Programme for Cooperation on Sustainable Community Development Model based on the Application of Sufficiency Economy Philosophy in the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka”. The said Joint Action Programme is intended to expand the application of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy of His Majesty the Late King Bhumibol Adulyadej in Sri Lanka. This joint cooperation will significantly assist Sri Lanka to further augment the social and economic conditions conducive for rural communities.

The President of Sri Lanka expressed his appreciation for the technical assistance extended by the Royal Thai Government in rainmaking technology to address issues of hydro-power generation and facilitate irrigation for agricultural purposes. The President of Sri Lanka also noted with satisfaction the existing collaboration between the experts in agriculture of the two countries, and in this context thanked the Thai Prime Minister for the expertise shared to identify possible means of modernizing the agricultural sector in Sri Lanka. Furthermore, with a view to enhancing the collaboration in agricultural and fisheries sectors, the two leaders, while recognizing the importance of convening the related Joint Working Groups, expressed that the two sides prioritise the exchange of proposals on envisaged cooperation.

In addition, the two leaders also witnessed the signing of the Treaty between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka on the Transfer of Offenders and on Co-operation in the Enforcement of Penal Sentences and the Memorandum of Understanding between Kasetsart University and the Ministry of Primary Industries on Technological Collaboration Related to Value Addition of Primary Products. The Memorandum of Understanding between the Thai Chamber of Commerce and the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce was also concluded.

Following the meeting, the President of Sri Lanka hosted a banquet in honour of the Prime Minister of Thailand and his delegation at the President’s House. Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe hosted a breakfast meeting for the Thai Prime Minister and his delegation on the following day.

The Prime Minister of Thailand visited the historic city of Kandy and paid homage to the sacred Tooth Relic. He also called on the Most Venerable Mahanayake Theros of the Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters of the Siam Sect. The Prime Minister of Thailand also visited the Royal Botanic Garden, Peradeniya, and planted a sapling to mark his visit to Sri Lanka.

This successful high-level visit reflects the timeless partnership between Thailand, Sri Lanka and their peoples, which is based on shared historic, religious and cultural affinities, augmented by mutually beneficial economic ties.

13 July 2018