APTA countries agree to widening tariff concessions by mid 2017


Jan 17, 2017 (LBO) – Sri Lanka along with other members of Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA) last week agreed to sign the protocol to conclude the 4th round of concessions which are to be implemented by 1st July 2017. The 4th round of tariff concessions has widened the coverage of preferences of total tariff concessions by at least 32 to 34 per cent of the total intra-regional trade under the agreement. In addition, the number of products under preferential tariff concessions increased to 10,677 items from the 4,270 agreed to in the 3rd round, a statement from ministry of commerce said. The Bangkok Agreement, signed in 1975, is the first Asia-Pacific preferential trade agreement of the region and was renamed as Asia Pacific Trade Agreement in 2006. The fourth ministerial council session of APTA was concluded last week in Thailand and this is the only trade agreement which connects countries that belong to different sub regions in Asia-Pacific. The seven countries that participate in the APTA arrangement are China, South Korea, Mongolia, Laos, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The ministry of commerce said members endorsed holding of the 5th session of the ministerial council in Sri Lanka in 2019. Sri Lanka’s total trade with all other member countries of the APTA have expanded significantly, particularly since China’s accession to APTA in 2001. Country’s exports to the member countries of the APTA, which stood at 64.46 million US dollars in 2010 has increased to 113.53 million dollars as at November 2016. Sri Lanka’s imports from member countries also increased from 12.16 million dollars in 2010 to 12.
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50 million dollars as at November 2016. Since Sri Lanka is not having bilateral trade agreements with China and Republic of Korea, APTA is the only agreement through which Sri Lankan exporters can penetrate into such markets. With regard to future road map of APTA, ministers of the APTA countries discussed on further expansion of the membership and upgrade the PTA to FTA/CEPA.
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