Singapore, Sri Lanka ink free trade agreement

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo yesterday. The two leaders later discussed education, trade, tourism, investments and drug policy, as well as ways to enhance coo
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo yesterday. The two leaders later discussed education, trade, tourism, investments and drug policy, as well as ways to enhance cooperation.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Singapore and Sri Lanka have signed a free trade agreement that will provide tariff savings and grant Singapore firms greater access to the Sri Lankan market.

The deal guarantees that for the next 15 years, Singapore companies will not have to pay tariffs on 80 per cent of product categories sold in Sri Lanka, said Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

Tariff savings for Singapore exports will come up to an estimated $10 million annually, MTI added.

The FTA also covers services, with both countries committing to open up markets for professional, environmental, construction, tourism and travel-related services.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who witnessed the signing yesterday, said Singapore firms will benefit from greater access to Sri Lanka, both in exports and investments.

One key factor that led to the successful negotiations was the fact that the current Sri Lankan government is on a path of economic reform and liberalisation, he added.

When Mr Lee arrived at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, a band played Majulah Singapura and the Sri Lankan anthem before a 19-gun salute was fired.

Mr Lee, who is on an official visit, then met President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It was his first meeting with President Sirisena after the latter was elected in 2015.

The two discussed education, trade, tourism, investments and drug policy, as well as ways to enhance cooperation. Mr Lee also encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its engagements with Asean.

Adding that it was a good meeting, he said of President Sirisena: "He is warm. He is an admirer of Singapore. He visits Singapore quite regularly on a personal basis, and he would like to do more with us."

SEE TOP OF THE NEWS 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 24, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore, Sri Lanka ink free trade agreement'. Print Edition | Subscribe