Thailand calls for FTA with Sri Lanka

Friday, 11 March 2016 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

South East Asia’s second largest economy yesterday officially called for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka to support efforts to triple bilateral trade by 2020. 

Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak was addressing the Business Forum arranged by the Export Development Board with representatives from many top Lankan businesses and exporters.

“Thailand is proposing a Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka. If Sri Lanka agrees, this FTA will usher in a new era of mutual cooperation and prosperity,” he said. Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Thailand was at $500m in 2015.

It is time to jumpstart bilateral economic partnership with multi-dimensional and diverse representations from the public and private sectors of Thailand. 

“Thailand and Sri Lanka share many similarities, natural landscape and our common Buddhist cultural heritage. In my personal experience and perspective, I see that Thailand can support and help fulfil Sri Lanka’s potential for growth, through public and private sector participation-in agriculture, tourism, Industry and SMEs, infrastructure and human resource development investments. We have signed three MoUs with Sri Lanka in this. We agree on our commitment to triple our bilateral trade to $1.5 b from present $ 500 m, in five years. Private sectors of both sides should make every effort in forging mutually-beneficial ties,” he said. 

Thailand is at the heart of South East Asia and connects ASEAN to China. Sri Lanka is at the centre of the Indian Ocean linking Asia Pacific to Middle East, Africa and Europe. More than half of the world trade passes through the Indian Ocean. Therefore Thailand sees Sri Lanka as a partner, the Deputy PM assured. 

“To further facilitate this partnership building, Thailand is proposing a Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka.  If Sri Lanka agrees, this FTA will usher in a new era of mutual cooperation and prosperity. While the FTA is under consideration, I would like to urge everyone here; do not wait, and take this opportunity to promote closer economic partnership between our two countries.”

State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe addressing the event stressed the new beginning in Sri Lanka and highlighted to trade potential for Thailand partnering with Sri Lanka. “Our new Government has brought in freedom, democracy, transparency and more importantly, investor confidence. And with the active Free Trade Agreements Sri Lanka has with India and Pakistan, Sri Lanka offers a great opportunity to Thailand investors.”    

The new MoUs and Letters of Intent between Sri Lanka and Thailand were signed on Wednesday in Colombo for bilateral cooperation – specifically in pharmaceuticals, fruits and vegetables, and automation.