Sri Lanka seeks priority access for tea, apparel in India, China

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s government is giving priority to getting duty free access to the Indian and Chinese markets for its main exports like tea and apparel in talks on free trade deals staring next week, an official said.

K G Weerasinghe, a member of the negotiating team for trade deals and a former director-general of commerce, said talks starting next week will first work out the framework for agreements and then go into details.

The requirements of export companies seeking greater access to overseas markets are being taken into consideration in the talks, he told a news conference.

“With the Chinese side we have indicated priority products like apparels, tea, gems and jewellery rubber and coconut-related products, certain spices, fruits and vegetables,” Weerasinghe said.

“We’ll give priority to a number of tariff lines on which we seek duty free market access immediately when the agreements come into effect, instead of in a phased manner as is usual,” he said.

With India, Sri Lanka is seeking the removal of a quota of 8 million pieces of apparel under the existing free trade deal, Weerasinghe said. (COLOMBO, July 27, 2016)

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