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* China, Sri Lanka agree to conclude the Free Trade Agreement before the end of 2014
Thu, Feb 13, 2014, 12:53 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Feb 13, Beijing: Sri Lanka's External Affairs Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris has said that the Sri Lanka-China Free Trade Agreement in promoting mutually beneficial trade was expected to be concluded before the end of this year.

The External Affairs Ministry Wednesday said in a statement said that during discussions between Minister Peiris and China's Vice-President Li Yuanchao Tuesday, China agreed to fast track negotiations to conclude the Free Trade Agreement.

Prof. Peiris, as a Special Envoy of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, is currently on a four-day official visit to Beijing at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.

In an exclusive interview with Xinhua before concluding his visit, the Sri Lankan Minister has said that the feasibility study on a FTA is nearing completion.

"The feasibility study is on the verge of completion. It will be a landmark, historic achievement since the Rubber-Rice Pact in 1952," Peiris has said.

Sri Lanka is targeting an economic growth of 7.5 percent for 2014 and finalizing an FTA with China as soon as possible will help Sri Lanka to achieve the targeted growth.

Minister Peiris during his meeting with the Chinese Vice-President has discussed improving bilateral trade and tourism as important modules in achieving the full potential of the strategic co-operative partnership between the two countries.

Noting the extensive increase in Chinese out-bound tourists, Vice-President Li has supported broadening the scope for Sri Lanka to explore tourism promotion opportunities in China as a further means of strengthening people to people interactions.

China has endorsed Sri Lanka's proposal to constitute a Joint Commission mechanism between the two countries at the level of Foreign Ministers in enabling periodic review of the comprehensive partnership between the two countries.

The Vice-President Li has identified Sri Lanka to be an important component of the Maritime Silk Route and has invited the country to play an important role in this initiative. Minister Peiris has welcomed the proposal as a means of strengthening co-operation in respect of maritime matters among the countries of the region.

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