COLOMBO (EconomyNext) – Sri Lanka and China are to hold a third round of talks on a free trade agreement soon following President Maithripala Sirisena’s state visit to China that ends Friday, a foreign ministry statement said.
Sirisena held talks with Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China and also met Li Keqiang, Premier, and Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China.
"The two leaders reiterated the view that Sri Lanka and China are all weather friends, whose relations span centuries and have stood the test of time," the statement said.
Both sides agreed that "they will make joint efforts to further enhance substantive cooperation to elevate the bilateral relations to a new level of excellence."
The statement said the two leaders agreed to work towards the successful conclusion of the proposed China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement which is under negotiation, and which "has the potential of setting in motion a new chapter in bilateral trade and economic relations."
President Sirisena "signalled" Sri Lanka’s interest to see genuine progress on the FTA, while recognising the asymmetries between the two economies, towards achieving a more balanced and sustainable bilateral trade and economic cooperation, it said.
The two sides agreed to convene the third round of negotiations on the FTA in the near future. No dates were given.
During Sirisena’s visit China offered grant assistance to establish a hospital, a special laboratory and a modern pharmaceutical laboratory institute for the research and treatment of Chronic Kidney Disease in Sri Lanka.
The statement said Sirisena welcomed the proposed cooperation between the Chinese Academy of Science and the Ministry of Urban Development of Sri Lanka to undertake a scientific study of water ways in Sri Lanka to detect possible causes of Chronic Kidney Disease of Unknown Etiology, as well as to ensure safety of drinking water through joint efforts.
Five agreements were signed during the visit on cooperation for special aid in public health, development of water treatment methods and technologies in kidney disease affected areas, research and development of the coconut industry, and refurbishment of the Superior Courts Complex in Sri Lanka
China also offered 2,000 training opportunities for young scientists from Sri Lanka in the next five years.