China to crown Lankan ties with FTA

Friday, 18 October 2013 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • China’s International Trade Minister Yu Jianhua says proposed FTA with Sri Lanka is the biggest leap since ’52 Rubber-Rice Pact
  • Stresses Lanka a priority country for China; FTA not only for trade but goes beyond
  • Sino-Lanka historic trade up by a massive 306%
  • 8,000 products open for you through our FTAs: Rishad
The forthcoming China-Sri Lanka FTA is the biggest development in Sino-Lanka cooperation history since the 1952 Rubber-Rice Pact and China is keen to see the groundwork on this FTA completed by December this year. “My mission is to start the China-Sri Lanka FTA process. The forthcoming FTA is the biggest development in China-Sri Lanka bilateral cooperation since the historic 1952 Rubber-Rice Pact between the two countries. We expect that the preparatory process of the forthcoming FTA to be completed by December this year. Then we can go to the next stage in 2014,” said a confident Yu Jianhua, the powerful Deputy International Trade Representative of the Ministry of Commerce of China on 17 October in Colombo. Jianhua was addressing Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, in the presence of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Secretary Anura Siriwardena and officials of the Department of Commerce. Jianhua’s powerful portfolio covers the Chinese Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs, the Department of WTO Affairs (China WTO Notification and Inquiry Centre), the Department of Asian Affairs, China International Centre for Economic and Technical Exchanges, China Association of International Trade and China Society for World Trade Organization Studies. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the total trade turnover between Sri Lanka and China which stood at US$ 658.94 m in 2005 has increased by a massive 306% to $ 2676.13 m by 2012. In the corresponding period, exports to China increased by 286% to $108 m. This is an achievement considering the fact that of the 50 Asian countries only eight – including Sri Lanka – were able to maintain a positive export growth to China since 2008. Latest statistics show that China has also entered the first 25 export destinations for Sri Lankan products. “Sri Lanka is a priority country for the China Ministry of Commerce. The FTA will not only upgrade trade levels between Sri Lanka and China but will also enhance trade skills of both countries as well. We will work diligently in our joint efforts. Before coming to Sri Lanka I looked at our trade with Sri Lanka very carefully in aspects such as tariffs, market access in China, diversifying of Sri Lanka’s exports and overall enhancement of Sri Lanka’s export potentials to China. The FTA is not only for the sake of trade but something beyond to materialise and institutionalise our strategic cooperation partnership as mandated by leaders of both countries. We are also encouraging Chinese firms to come and involve in Sri Lanka’s economic development. My MOFCOM is thankful to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce for its ongoing support. I am also honoured to chair this morning’s meeting with your Treasury, which was a successful meeting with frank and friendly exchanges,” Jianhua said. Minister Bathiudeen, responding to Minister Jianhua, said: “This FTA is the most promising development in China-Sri Lanka trade relations, thanks to the initiative of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. It will be stepping stone in our ongoing trade with China and we are very hopeful that with the implementation of the FTA, our trade with China will grow to a significant level. I am also pleased to hear that your meetings with the Treasury have resulted in successful outcomes, which is good news for our export and business communities. I invite Chinese investors for joint venture partnerships in textiles, mineral sands, graphite and mining as well as tourism sectors and access the huge South Asian market using our FTAs with India and Pakistan where more than 8,000 export product lines are open for them upon 30% or more value addition.” Secretary Siriwardena, apprising Minister Jianhua, said: “Our Treasury has also given the go-ahead for our FTA technical team on the FTA tech teams of both sides have identified aspects and sectors of cooperation.” During the in-depth discussions on 17 October noon, both Ministers also focused on such additional aspects of cooperation as Lankan rural sector/SME development and tourism with Chinese assistance.