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12 March 2018

Lanka-Thailand in strategic economic partnership

Jittima Nakamano, Commercial Counselor and Director of Thai Trade Centre, Chennai, India, Chutima Eamchotchawalit, Deputy Governor of Thailand Institute of Scientific and Technological Research, representative from the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade-Sri Lanka, Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Thai Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Nanadana Ekanayake , CEO of Siam City Cement (Lanka) Ltd at the seminar. Picture by Thushara Fernando

A Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) on strategic economic partnership is to be signed between Sri Lanka and Thailand shortly prior to starting negotiations on Thailand-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

This is in a bid to give a further flip to existing trade and investment ties between the two countries.Chulamanee Chartsuwan, Thai Ambassador to Sri Lanka revealed these facts, speaking at a special seminar, titled, ‘Sri Lanka Strategic Partnership in the Making, perspectives on trade, investment, and development opportunities,’ at the inauguration of Thailand Week Tade Fair, held in Colombo.

Commenting on proposed FTA with Sri Lanka, Ambassador Chartsuwan stated that negations pertaining to the FTA would take some time and expressed hope that both parties would start negotiations on FTA in the near future. Highlighting major barriers in terms of attracting Thai investments into Sri Lanka, Ambassador emphasized the importance of implementing necessary tax reforms while addressing issues in regard to ease of doing business and business climate in Sri Lanka in a bid to facilitate and attract more Thai investment into Sri Lanka.

A senior official attached to the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade speaking at the seminar also expressed hope that both parties would start negotiating on the scope of the FTA most likely in April this year.

Sri Lanka has currently adopted a two-prong strategy to enhance trade and investment ties with Thailand and also to attract major Thai investment into Sri Lanka, especially in the production sector here.

In 2017, two-way trade between the two countries has tripled with the total trade amounting to US $ 512.74 million and plans are also underway to increase this number up to the US $ 1.5 billion by 2020.

Thailand investment in Sri Lanka currently stands at the US $ 700 million from the US $ 70 million in 2015, registering a 100% growth rate and Thailand investors have made a strategic investment in the areas of tourism, food processing, automobile, construction material, jewelry, educational training in Sri Lanka.