Sri Lanka Signs Free Trade Agreement With Thailand To Boost Economic Ties

In the endeavor to augment bilateral trade, Sri Lanka has formally entered into a trade agreement with Thailand. The pact, termed the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement, spans various sectors including trade in goods, investment, customs procedures, and intellectual property rights. The signing ceremony, held in Colombo, saw the attendance of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe and Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

The two countries began FTA negotiations in 2016. Thailand's exports to Sri Lanka totaled $292 million in 2022, while Sri Lankan exports to Thailand amounted to $58 million. Sri Lanka mainly exports precious stones, apparel, tea, and spices. Key imports from Thailand include rubber, plastic, and cement. The agreement is expected to push two-way trade to $1.5 billion, as per official estimates. Thavisin said both sides also agreed to encourage investments in sectors like fisheries, food processing, tourism, and renewable energy.

Sri Lanka aims to restructure $17 billion of its outstanding debt and has already reached agreements with some of its external creditors. Describing the agreement as "a milestone in the economic partnership" between the two countries, Wickremesinghe emphasized Sri Lanka's significant progress in economic stabilization since the onset of the crisis.

"As Sri Lanka embarks on its journey of economic transformation and integration with Asia, we look to Thailand for support in our efforts to stabilize the economy and regain international confidence towards recovery and growth," Wickremesinghe stated.

He further noted that the free trade agreement marks Sri Lanka's second such agreement with an ASEAN country, following the one with Singapore. Sri Lanka is also engaged in negotiations with neighboring India and China regarding trade agreements.

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