Free trade deals give Sri Lanka access to 3 bn people market
ECONOMYNEXT – New free trade deals with India, China and Pakistan will give Sri Lanka preferential access to a market of almost three billion people, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama said.
Sri Lanka is located a mere 20 miles from India, which by common consent is going to be the fastest growing large economy in the world, he told the Invest in East 2016 international investment promotion forum.
“We are planning to deepen and widen bilateral relations through the Indo – Lanka Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement. Our intention is to sign the Agreement by mid-2016.”
Improving infrastructure in both countries is reducing transaction costs and thereby increasing the advantages of proximity, Samarawickrama said.
Indian prime minister Naredndra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ strategy will create opportunities for linking into new and expanding value chains in domestic as well as multinational companies operating in India.
Samarawickrama said the government is also in the process of deepening the FTA with Pakistan.
“We are also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with China,” he said. “The agreements with China, India and Pakistan will give us preferential access to a market of almost 3 billion people. One could argue that this is our ‘Unique Selling Point’.”
Samarawickrama said the government is also exploring a possibility of signing FTAs with other countries.
“In addition, we are assessing the merits of seeking to join the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).”
With preferential access to both the Indian and Pakistani markets, Sri Lanka can act as a “bridge” for investors from both countries to penetrate each other’s markets, Samarawickrama said.
“Indian investors, who wish to have preferential access to Central Asia can also locate in Sri Lanka and have access to those markets through Pakistan, which has a regional cooperation agreement with those countries.”