(MENAFN- Colombo Gazette)
Thailand and Sri Lanka expect to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) in early 2024 as the two parties aim for three more rounds of talks this year to conclude the negotiations, according to the chief of according to the chief of the Trade Negotiations Department.
Auramon Supthaweethum, director-general of the department, speaking at the sixth round of negotiations for the Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA held from Aug 21-23 in Bangkok, said the talks have advanced beyond the halfway point. Both sides aim to conclude negotiations in 2023, paving the way for the trade ministers of both countries to sign the agreement early next year, she said.
The sixth round comprised the trade negotiating committee overseeing overall progress and seven technical working groups covering trade in goods, rules of origin, trade in services, investment, technical barriers to trade, trade remedies, and legal issues.
“We are more than halfway there, and both sides plan to hold three more rounds of negotiations in October, November and December to conclude all matters,” said Mrs Auramon.
“Then both sides will proceed with internal processes to raise awareness among the public and relevant stakeholders, presenting the negotiation outcomes for the consideration and approval of their respective cabinets for approval.”
She said studies determined that despite Sri Lanka's small size and population of only 22 million, it has an important geographic position in the Indian Ocean, making it a hub for maritime transport. It also possesses abundant natural resources such as preciminerals and seafood.
A Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA is projected to expand the Thai economy by 0.02%, equivalent to US$80 million. This includes the expansion of investments and the value of Thai exports to Sri Lanka.
The potential beneficiaries of this agreement include automobiles and auto components, machinery, electrical appliances, metals, sugar and plastics, according to the department. Industries in which Thailand could expand its investments in Sri Lanka include processed foods, beverages, textiles, garments and jewellery. (Courtesy Bangkok Post)