Sri Lanka approaches UK for bilateral FTA
- Discussions yet to materialise
By Imsha Iqbal
The Sri Lankan Government is discussing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the UK, hoping it would help both countries strengthen their trade ties with each other, The Morning Business learns.
Speaking to us, Ministry of Trade Media Spokesperson Mahesh Wickrama stated: “It is still in the discussion level,” implying that the suggestion in this regard has been taken into consideration; however, it has not been finalised yet.
He added that the UK is a lucrative market for Sri Lanka, indicating that Sri Lanka can reap commercial opportunities. The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa at the Presidential Secretariat on Tuesday (27) and explained the potential Sri Lanka can achieve by expanding export opportunities with the UK by entering into an FTA.
State Minister of Regional Co-operation Tharaka Balasuriya has been appointed by the Cabinet of Ministers as the Chairperson of the Free Trade Negotiation Committee last week, the Trade Ministry Spokesperson noted.
However, all our attempts to get a comment from Balasuriya proved futile.
Sri Lanka has been negotiating a number of FTAs at the moment including the Sri Lanka-Thailand FTA and the Sri Lanka-China FTA while it is also in the process of amending the controversial FTA with Singapore which has already been entered into.
The UK is a main market for Sri Lanka’s exports to the EU region and the second-largest export market after the US. Once the Brexit transition period ended, the UK Global Tariff (UKGT) replaced the EU’s Common External Tariff which applied till 31 December 2020 and the UK Generalised Scheme of Preferences (UK GSP) was established in January 2021 and applies to date.
The Department of International Trade of the UK announced that EU-GSP eligible countries will be able to get the same tariff preferences they were entitled to earlier through the UK GSP from 1 January 2021 onwards.