Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Duminda Hulangamuwa welcoming President Ranil Wickremesinghe
The Sri Lanka-Thailand Business Forum, organised in collaboration with the Embassy of the Kingdom of Thailand in Sri Lanka, the Department of International Trade Promotion, The Ministry of Commerce Thailand, the Ministry of Trade Commerce and Food Security, The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber’s Sri Lanka - Greater Mekong Business Council (SLGMBC), on 3 February 2024, attracted high-level government and private sector participation.
Attended by President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Prime Minister of Thailand Srettha Thavisin, with the participation of over 200 corporate representatives and a 21-member business delegation from Thailand, the Forum followed the signing of the Sri Lanka – Thailand Free Trade Agreement.
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Sri Lanka and Thailand holds significant importance for Sri Lanka, addressing critical challenges in the country’s export sector, especially the lack of both export diversification and varied export destinations.
The reduction in tariffs for traditional exports like tea, apparel, coconut, rubber, cinnamon, and fishery products is expected to provide a boost to Sri Lanka’s export growth in 2024, and the FTA is also expected to stimulate growth in services exports, particularly in sectors like construction, education, computer and IT services, tourism, and environmental services.
The Investment Chapter of the FTA is anticipated to attract Thai investment, addressing technology and skills gaps in sectors such as automobile, electronics, and pharma, while visa-free travel provisions will further reduce business costs for the private sector in both countries, facilitating easier setup and fostering tourism links.
The Ceylon Chamber and the SLGMBC were instrumental in facilitating a series of business-to-business meetings amongst the Sri Lankan companies and the Thai business delegation, serving as the first platform to foster bilateral relationships following the FTA. Expressing interest across a spectrum of sectors, including food processing, healthcare, energy, hospitality, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, and manufacturing, the Thai delegation actively engaged with their Sri Lankan business counterparts to explore mutually beneficial opportunities for collaboration.
The Ceylon Chamber views the FTA with Thailand as a catalyst for economic growth and trade diversification for Sri Lanka, positioning it strategically within the broader Asia-Pacific region.