Sri Lanka and Singapore sign Free Trade Agreement



By APD writer Easwaran Rutnam

COLOMBO, Jan. 23 (APD) -- Sri Lanka and Singapore on Tuesday signed a Free Trade Agreement following talks between the leaders of Singapore and Sri Lanka.

The Free Trade Agreement will boost the trade between the two countries as this would facilitate duty free access to selected goods and services of each other, the Sri Lankan President's office said.

The signing of the Free Trade Agreement took place following bilateral discussions between visiting Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong and President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat.

The Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama and S. Iswaran Minister for Trade and Industry of the Republic of Singapore signed the Free Trade Agreement on behalf of the respective Governments, in the presence of President Sirisena, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The government information department in Sri Lanka said that the FTA will give companies in Singapore and Sri Lanka greater access to each other's markets across various sectors, including services, e-commerce, telecommunications, and government procurement.

Key benefits include the elimination or lowering of tariffs that would allow Singapore exporters to save about S$10 million a year.

Singapore companies would also be allowed to bid for projects by the Sri Lankan government or its state-owned enterprises. The FTA would put in place investment safeguards against discriminatory treatment based on nationality.

Bilateral trade between the two countries reached about S$2.7 billion in 2017, making Sri Lanka Singapore's 36th-largest trading partner. Some of Singapore's top exports to Sri Lanka include petroleum oil and diesel fuel, non-monetary gold and jewellery, while top imports from Sri Lanka include motor spirit, fuel oils, perfumes, clothing accessories and wheat flour.

Singapore companies, such as those in the construction, manufacturing, and service sectors, have established a presence in Sri Lanka since the early 1990s.