An Echelon Media Company
Sunday October 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka to fast-track FTA with Thailand in bid to boost exports

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s cabinet of ministers has approved a proposal to fast-track a free trade agreement with Thailand in the hopes of increasing exports to the Asian nation, Cabinet Spokesman Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.

“The biggest thing we have apart from the Economic crisis is the lack of forex in the country,” Gunawardana told reporters on Tuesday February 14.

“We lack dollars and we are unable to pay back for the goods we import. The only way to mitigate this is to increase dollar income and reduce outflows.”

The first round of discussions between the two nations happened in 2016 followed by a second round in 2018. The latest talks were on January 09-10, 2023. The agreement is expected to increase the current export value of 550 million US dollars per annum to 1.5 billion US dollars.

Countries like India, Vietnam and Singapore are heavily dependent on FTAs which have boosted their exports, Gunawadana said, adding that Sri Lanka should also consider FTAs in order to encourage exporters to compete in foreign markets.

“Because of FTAs other countries can export their products duty free,” said Gunawardana.

“If we do not get into these agreements, our exporters will have a hard time competing in those markets. We have to do it whether we like it or not.”

Sri Lanka is in the midst of its worst currency crisis in the history of the nation’s Central Bank which resulted in the depreciation of the rupee from 260 to 360 against the US dollar in 2022.

In November 2022, imports were down 18.1 percent to 1,445 million US dollars and exports fell 17.9 percent to 994 million Us dollars.

The trade deficit was 450 million dollars, down from 553 million US dollars last year, but slightly higher from October.

Inflows to the government was 208 million dollars in November up from 91 million US dollars.

Sri Lanka has seen exports falling, after the US Fed and other reserve currency central banks stopped printing money, reducing artificial demand for imports. (Colombo/Feb 14/2023)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Leave a Comment

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sri Lanka National Christian Council opposes Online Safety Bill

ECONOMYNEXT – The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka (NCCSL) in a statement on the Online Safety Bill, said that the existing legal regime is adequate to deal with instances of harmful speech, making it unjustifiable to enact such “stringent laws”.

The Council called upon the government to withdraw the bill immediately.

The body expressed “deep concern” over the proposed bill, detailing its potential to curtail freedom of speech and how, according to the Council, the piece of legislature is inconsistent with the principles of democracy.

“The bill proposes the establishment of an entity named the Online Safety Commission without provisions to guarantee its independence and impartiality,” the statement said.

Chapter 3 imposes restrictions on online communication of certain statements, many of which are vague and overbroad, leaving room for executive control and the curtailing of legitimate criticism and dissent that are basic features of democracy, the statement said.

“The laws granting wide discretion to the executive and its investigative agencies with expansive reach have been misused in the past.”

The Council said that the bill was not drafted with the process of public consultation and discussion, which might have ensured the bill would be less draconian in nature.

“The National Christian Council of Sri Lanka calls upon the government to withdraw this anti-human rights and anti-democratic bill immediately.” (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lanka to implement new vehicle revenue licence issuing system

ECONOMYNEXT – A new system of issuing vehicle licences called eRL 2.0 is to be implemented in 5 provinces, excluding the Western Province, from 3 October onwards.

The new system is to be implemented beginning in the North West, South, North Central, Central and Sabaragamuwa provinces, respectively. The existing vehicle licence issuing system eRL 1.0 will continue to be used in the Western Province.

The issuing of revenue licences islandwide at Department of Motor Traffic head offices and regional branches will be temporarily halted on October 2.

The facility of obtaining vehicle permits online will also be temporarily halted on 6 October till midnight.

The Sri Lanka Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) and the Provincial Motor Traffic Departments are working to modernize the current vehicle revenue license issuance system.

The implementation of the new eRL 2.0 system is expected to be an important step in the digitalisation of Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Sep30/2023)

Continue Reading

Sri Lankan Airlines flights cancelled as aircraft grounded

ECONOMYNEXT – State-run SriLankan Airlines has apologized to passengers who were stranded as multiple aircraft were grounded at the same time.

The airline said it has strict procedures which requires aircraft to be grounded when technical issues are discovered.

“Unfortunately, in this case we suffered a number of groundings at the same time,” the airline said.

“We apologize for the disruption and inconvenience caused and assure all our loyal customers that we are working diligently to minimize such occurrences moving forward.”

The airline said it was booking passengers on other airlines while some have been accommodated at hotels. (Colombo/Sept30/2023)

Continue Reading