Feb 18, Singapore: A Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) will hopefully be finalized this year, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.
In a Facebook post on Saturday (Feb 18) Mr. Lee expressed hope of completing the FTA this year after he hosted a dinner for his Sri Lankan counterpart Ranil Wickremesinghe and his wife, who had stopped over in Singapore on his return home from Australia.
"Caught up with Sri Lankan PM Ranil Wickremesinghe and Mrs Wickremesinghe over dinner last night. They stopped over on the way home from an official visit in Australia," Mr. Lee wrote.
"PM Wickremesinghe is a good friend of Singapore, having visited us many times (most recently for the South Asian Diaspora Convention last July. We talked about the FTA that we are negotiating, which we hope to complete this year," Singapore Premier said.
Mr. Lee said Prime Minister Wickremesinghe extended an invitation to visit Sri Lanka. "He invited me to visit Sri Lanka - hopefully to sign the FTA!" Mr Lee posted.
During Wickremesinghe's visit to Singapore in July 2016, Premier Lee and Sri Lankan Prime Minister agreed to launch Free Trade Agreement negotiations between both countries hoping Singapore-Sri Lanka relations will deepen and grow with the new initiatives.
Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran last July said in Colombo that there is a potential for a "good quality" bilateral trade agreement between Sri Lanka and Singapore.
The SLSFTA is expected to comprise commitments in trade in goods, services, investment and government procurement, according to Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).
In 2015, Sri Lanka was Singapore's 39th largest trading partner and bilateral trade amounted to S$2.05 billion, according to MTI. Exports to Sri Lanka totaled S$1.9 billion in 2015, while imports from Sri Lanka totaled S$146 million. Sri Lanka was Singapore's 29th largest export destination in 2015.