Mar 20, Colombo: Sri Lanka and China have completed a joint feasibility study for establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, the Finance Ministry said Thursday in a statement.
Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. P B Jayasundara and Assistant Minister of Commerce of China Mr. Wang Shouwen have jointly announced the finalization of the joint feasibility study on the proposed Sri Lanka - China Free Trade Agreement (SLCFTA) during their official meeting in Beijing on 11th March, the Ministry said.
The finalization of the Joint Feasibility Study opens the avenue for the discussions on the Free Trade Negotiations which is expected to be commenced soon.
During the state visit of President Mahinda Rajapaksa to China in May 2013, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to establish a joint working group on trade to study the feasibility of the Sri Lanka - China FTA. Accordingly the Joint Feasibility Study on FTA commenced in August 2013.
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.
The trade between Sri Lanka and China has increased in the recent past, reaching US$ 3.6 billion in 2013 from US$ 1.1 billion in 2006. China has become one of the major development partners of Sri Lanka during the past, especially in the field of infrastructure projects.
Recalling the Rubber Rice Pact Sri Lanka and China signed in 1952, Dr. Jayasundara said the proposed FTA will bring substantial economic and trade benefits to both countries while strengthening the friendly relationship between the two countries.
He expressed the hope that the FTA will be implemented at an early date.