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Srilanka and Thailand Free Trade Agreement

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Colombo, 3 February 2023, (WAI): The President of Srilanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe, and the Prime Minister of Thailand, Srettha Thavisin, signed a landmark Trade Agreement in Colombo. This unveiled a blueprint for both country’s economic collaborations.

In April 2022, Srilanka was declared bankrupt, and that’s why it suffered the worst financial crisis. The crisis also led to wide-scale protests, which ousted President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

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Afterward, the country faced a severe fuel, food, and medicines shortage. The IMF permitted a four-year bailout program to assist Srilanka. This FTP is supposedly expected to enhance deeper integration and cooperation with Asian economies.

Economic Upliftment

A delegation of Thailand under the leadership of Srettha reached Colombo to sign the FTA alongside other trade agreements. President Ranil ceremonially welcomed the delegation at the Presidential Secretariat. The Srettha will also be a guest of honour in Sri Lanka’s 76th Independence Day celebrations.

The FTA was Sri Lanka’s second with an ASEAN country after Singapore. This aims to help Sri Lanka emerge from its worst financial crisis. These negotiations cover trade in goods, investments, Customs Procedures, and intellectual property rights. The World Bank estimated that Sri Lanka’s economy contracted 3.8 percent last year. Therefore, Sri Lanka seeks to foster economic growth.

Also Read: Pakistan-EU relations deepen at Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum

Briefings on Trade Agreements

The Srettha told a joint media meeting that this agreement will provide numerous business opportunities for both sides. Moreover, the two countries also renewed a new air services agreement. This aims to enhance aviation relations and regulatory frameworks.

Furthermore, Srettha said Thai Airways would continue flights from Bangkok to Sri Lanka. The Gem and Jewellery Research of Srilanka and the Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand also signed an MOU.

Regarding maritime, Prime Minister Srettha cited a land bridge project to connect the Andaman Sea with the Gulf of Thailand. The bilateral trade of both countries was $460m in 2021, according to Srilanka Central Bank Data. The Srilanka primarily exports tea and precious stones to Thailand. In return, Srilanka imports electronic equipment, food, and pharmaceuticals.

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