Sri Lankan PM eyes trade with India, China

Colombo, April 24 (IANS) Sri Lanka aims to strengthen its economy and move the country forward by entering into bilateral agreements with several countries including India and China, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said here on Saturday.

Wickremesinghe said the hour arrived for Sri Lanka to be once again the economic hub it was in the ancient world on the Silk Route, Xinhua reported.

He further said that his government was in the final stages of formulating the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India and were also reviewing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China.

Additionally, his government was also looking at entering into such partnerships with Singapore, Turkey, USA and Pakistan.

“Our end goal is the creation and sustenance of a dynamic and thriving economic hub that will generate thousands of jobs,” he said.

Sri Lanka is also planning to regain the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Plus trade concessions from the EU after it was withdrawn from Sri Lanka as the island nation failed to meet certain conditions on human rights issues in 2010 when Mahinda Rajapakse was president.

The Sri Lankan government was currently in discussions with the EU and are confident to regain the trade concessions this year.

Meanwhile Wickremesinghe also welcomed the decision by the EU this week to lift a ban on Sri Lanka’s fish exports which he said is a significant step towards reaping economic benefits for Sri Lanka and will fuel the growth potential of the fishing industry in the country.

The European Commission decided to lift of the ban on fisheries exports from Sri Lanka to the European Union, stating that Sri Lanka now had a robust legal and policy framework to fight illegal fishing activities.

The Sri Lankan government said that it was facing a loss of over $100 million per year because of the ban.

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