S'pore, Sri Lanka to pursue free trade agreement

Singapore and Sri Lanka are keen to pursue a free trade agreement, Minister for Trade and Industry (Industry) S. Iswaran said yesterday. He was speaking at the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum in the Sri Lankan commercial capital of Colombo to an audience of over 140 businessmen from Singapore and Sri Lankan companies.

At a meeting before the forum, Mr Iswaran and the Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade, Mr Malik Samarawickrama, had agreed that both countries would benefit from a comprehensive FTA, and directed their officials to study it.

The FTA is expected to contain commitments on trade in goods, services, investment and government procurement.

Mr Iswaran said the FTA "will enhance economic flows by lowering barriers to entry and providing greater market access" for Singapore and Sri Lankan companies.

In conjunction with Mr Iswaran's visit, a delegation of 31 businessmen from 28 Singapore companies went to Sri Lanka on a business mission organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and IE Singapore.

The group is visiting Colombo for five days to gain an understanding of the local business environment and the government's economic development plans. The companies are from the oil and gas, energy, professional services, info-communications technology, construction and infrastructure-related services, and general trade sectors.

Mr Tan Soon Kim, the assistant chief executive officer of IE Singapore, said: "Sri Lanka represents a new frontier in the South Asia region with growth rates expected at over 5 per cent over the next five years."

Singapore companies with a presence in Sri Lanka come from sectors such as construction, infrastructure, manufacturing, food processing and services.

Yasmine Yahya

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore, Sri Lanka to pursue free trade agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe