Trade Barriers

August 21, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has set an end September deadline to implement commitments under its trade deals with India, Pakistan and other South Asian countries.

Sri Lanka was expected to phase out tariffs under its free trade deals with India and Pakistan this year, as well as under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA).

The tariff cuts have been held up due to procedural delays in Parliament. We have explained to them what the delays are and are trying to get everything implemented by end September, R M K Ratnayake, Secretary to the Trade & Commerce Ministry, told LBO on Monday.

A 70 percent tariff cut on imports of goods like cement from India was due in April, while tariffs under the Lanka-Pakistan FTA was to be reduced by 30 percent on the customs duty rate, in July.

Commitments under SAFTA are to bring down tariffs of above 20 percent to 20 percent levels over two years starting from July this year.

For tariffs below 20 percent, targets are to bring it down to ten percent over two years, but to phase them to between zero and five percent over three years for Least Developed Countries (LDC).

The tariff phase on