SL-Thailand FTA in the pipeline | Sunday Observer

SL-Thailand FTA in the pipeline

Sri Lanka is in the process of finalising the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand to boost bilateral trade, said State Minister of International Trade, Sujeewa Senasinghe.

“We are already working on a trade pact with Thailand which will be similar to pact with Singapore opening up the country to a vast region for trade. Our aim is to expand trade across all regions,” the minister said. According to the minister, plans are afoot to sign trade agreements with Malaysia, China and Indonesia.

“We have been discussing the trade pacts with our East Asian friends and the trade pacts will be a reality soon,” Senasinghe said.

However, trade experts said trade agreements should result ina win-win situation and not a one-sided gain.

The Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) came under a barrage of criticism due to a lack of transparency and adequate stakeholder input.

The SLSFTA has faced many road blocks since it was singed early this year and the pact currently is being reviewed by a presidential committee.

However, according to the state minister, the SLSFTA will be implemented after the completion of the review. “We have already recorded $ 16 billion export income and we are confident we could achieve the $ 17.5 billion target by the end of this year and $ 25 billion by 2022,” the minister said.

Sri Lanka and Thailand having been seeking ways to boost trade with a trade pact with the aim to triple bilateral trade to $ 1.5 billion by the end of 2020.

A seven-nation trade deal between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand had been in the cards for sometime. However, prospects for such a deal has been dim.

Thailand intends to cease the opportunity for more trade between Sri Lanka which is collaborating with China’s Belt and Road Initiative

However, analysts are skeptical about China’s role in the region and its loans to emerging economies, calling China’s aid, a debt trap.