ECONOMYNEXT – Malaysia has agreed to support Sri Lanka’s application to become a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a major regional trade agreement.
The RCEP is a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe met the Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim during bilateral discussions on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York yesterday (20).
During the meeting, the Malaysian Prime Minister expressed a strong desire to bolster economic ties between the two nations, according to a president’s media division statement.
He emphasized Malaysia’s eagerness to facilitate increased investments from Malaysian companies in Sri Lanka.
Ibrahim also expressed positivity towards Sri Lanka’s request to commence negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which could potentially open up new avenues for trade and economic cooperation.
Wickremesinghe is in a drive to bolster international ties and integrate the country with the global economy.
So far this week he met with the leaders of Bangladesh, Nepal, Malaysia, Iran, South Korea, as well as representatives from global bodies such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, USAID, Meta, the Commonwealth, and attended other forums.
Sri Lanka aims to expand its economic reach first within South Asia and then extend further.
Data shows that Sri Lanka has been able to boost exports with FTAs.
Over the past two decades Sri Lanka’s exports have not grown as much as competitors.
Economists involved in trade have pointed out that Sri Lanka should make joining the RCEP a priority instead of trying to negotiate multiple smaller deals for which it does not have the bandwidth in government, or the technical resources to do multiple trade agreements. (Colombo/Sep21/2023)