PM to sign Sri Lanka FTA in days

PM to sign Sri Lanka FTA in days

Thailand and Sri Lanka will sign a free trade agreement (FTA) this week during Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin’s trip to the island country, said spokesman Chai Watcharonke yesterday.

Mr Srettha has been invited by Sri Lankan Premier Ranil Wickremesinghe as a guest of honour for Sri Lanka’s Independence Day celebrations from tomorrow until Sunday.

The upcoming FTA will be Thailand’s 15th contract of its kind and the first since Mr Srettha took the premiership last year.

The contract aims to bring Thai goods to new markets in South Asia by accelerating the opening of gateways for trade and investment.

Expanding Thai trade to newer territories while sustaining existing markets is part of the government’s proactive diplomatic policy, said Mr Chai.

Although Sri Lanka is a small country of just 22 million people, it is an interesting market due to its geographical location in the Indian Ocean, which is a strategic point for shipping, according to the Department of Trade Negotiations (DTN).

The DTN revealed that the overall trade value between Thailand and Sri Lanka from January to October last year had jumped to US$320.37 million (11.3 billion baht).

Thailand’s main exports there include rubber products, fabrics, gemstones, machinery and plastic pellets, while imported goods include jewellery, electrical components, garments, plant products and chemicals.

The new FTA is expected to benefit Thailand’s exports of automotive parts, textiles, electrical appliances, machinery, steel products, paper, processed food and animal feed.

Thailand hopes to conclude an FTA with the European Union next year.