Sri Lanka and Thailand has come to a consensus on a Trade in Goods FTA as the first step before a comprehensive FTA that follows.Thailand has proposed an MOU on Strategic Economic Partnership (SEP) with Sri Lanka as a stepping stone, on June 2 in Bangkok.
The latest breakthrough in Sri Lanka –Thai trade is reported from the '2nd Sub Committee Meeting on Trade Related Matters' between the higher level trade officials of both countries held in Bangkok on June 2.
The bilateral meeting was held at Eastin Grand Hotel, Sathorn, Bangkok. The Thai delegation was led by Director-General of Thailand's Department of Trade Negotiations Boonyarit Kalayanamit, while Sri Lanka side was led by Director General of Commerce of Sri Lanka Sonali Wijeratne.
While exchanging views on trade and economic situations of both countries, the two parties expressed their interest to further enhance their trade and achieve the targets set by the leaders of the two countries to reach total trade to USD 1.5 billion by 2020. Current annual trade levels between Thailand and Sri Lanka is in the range of US $ 550 Mn.
To achieve the $ 1.5 Bn trade objective, it was agreed to explore the possibilities of establishment of the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and developing the Strategic Economic Partnership (SEP) between Thailand and Sri Lanka in identified sectors of mutual interests.
Under the proposed FTA, it was considered to explore the possibility of the establishing an FTA on Trade in Goods as the first step towards a comprehensive FTA with the offer lists under the BIMSTEC to be considered as the basis for the FTA negotiation on the goods under the Enabling Clause of the WTO.
The Thai side submitted a draft MOU on Economic Strategic Partnership to Sri Lanka for consideration for which both sides exchanged views, and Sri Lankan side suggested some additions and an action plan. The MOU is expected to be concluded with an action plan in order to be signed during Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak's visit to Sri Lanka in August 2017.
Both sides also discussed areas such as basic infrastructure in Sri Lanka, food preservation and food processing industry, Gems and Jewelry industry, Tourism / Hospitality Industry, Export credit line, Small and medium enterprises, Agricultural products: Floriculture and Tea, Automobile component manufactures, Electronics & electrical sector, Trade fair participation, Capacity Building, Quarantine clearance to export of fresh strawberries to Thailand, and long processing time in the issuance of business visa to Sri Lankan exporters. The Sri Lankan side tabled investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and invited investments and technical cooperation in those areas. The Thai side pledged to look into these matters upon receipt of the proposals from the Sri Lankan side.
The meeting concluded with positive initiatives in trade and investment areas of both countries. The third meeting will be held in Colombo, for which date and venue will be finalized as per mutual agreement.