By Uditha Jayasinghe
Sri Lanka is on the verge of expanding trade with the two fastest growing nations in the world, China and India, and gaining access to 2.4 billion people with the Cabinet giving approval to ratify the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA).
Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen presented a Cabinet Paper to execute formal ratification of the framework agreements among the APTA participating states and present it to the Secretary of the UNESCAP. The trade facilitation agreement is expected to improve the efficiency of the process associated with trading goods across national borders by simplifying capacity among members. The provisions would in depth facilitate member states in reducing trade transaction costs, fees and formalities, freedom of transit and transparency on trade regulations with a view to opening up single window systems in the import and export trade.
“Sri Lanka could achieve significant economic benefits through implementation of trade facilitation measures as a member country of APTA,” Environment Minister Anura Priyadarshana Yapa noted, adding that under this agreement the signatory countries would have access spanning east, southeast and south Asia, with the potential to extend to other sub-regions. It is the only operational trade agreement linking China and India as well as other major economic hubs such as Korea.
He remarked that APTA, being a dynamic regional trade agreement, had been instrumental in generating favourable trading opportunities to Sri Lanka. It is anticipated that the implementation of fourth round APTA concessions would further enhance Sri Lanka’s market access, deriving more benefits for exporters.
The Cabinet paper stated that the main objective of the APTA Investment Chapter was to strengthen the position of participating states as competitive investment destinations through a more liberal and transparent investment environment and promoting APTA member countries while providing the protection of the investments made.