The World Trade Organisation (WTO) on Tuesday noted that the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China as well as one proposed with Singapore will bring huge benefits to Sri Lanka, the Asia Pacific Daily (APD) news reported.
A visiting WTO official told delegates at a seminar in Colombo that no less than two thirds of annual imports to Sri Lanka will enter the country duty free when the FTAs with China and Singapore are wrapped up.
“Assuming both China and Singapore FTAs are successfully formulated, and with zero duty rates, the total volume of duty free imports to Sri Lanka will be 75% of the country’s annual imports,” Chief of the Regional Trade Agreements (RTA) Division of the WTO Dr. Ms Rohini Acharya said.
Acharya and WTO Counsellor Ms Jo- Ann Crawford were attending the launch event of the National Seminar on WTO and Regional Trade Agreements organised by the Department of Commerce in Sri Lanka.
“The volume of duty free imports annually entering Sri Lanka will go up to 75% from the present 51% bringing significant advantages to the economy,” Acharya said.
Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce K.D.N Ranjith Ashoka said that Sri Lanka is currently working towards the China and Singapore FTAs.
“The FTA work is proceeding with much care so that local stakeholders are protected. Sri Lanka’s hub positioning is a key. They call it Open Skies, but the open ocean routes are even more important for our trade development. For example, we handle 30% of Indian container trans-shipments.”