Colombo, July 16 (newsin.asia) – Sri Lanka, on Sunday said talks on a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China were progressing smoothly and both countries hoped to sign the agreement soon.
Commerce and Industry Minister, Rishard Bathiudeen said Sri Lanka had to date held six sessions of discussions with China on the FTA and the island was now preparing for the seventh round of talks.
“Recently the IMF and World Bank ranked China as the world’s largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity. These factors show us that an FTA with such an economy would be beneficial for Sri Lanka. In fact I am pleased to say that our FTA talks with China are progressing smoothly. The sixth round of talks were successfully concluded this March in Beijing. We are working for the seventh FTA round next,” Bathiudeen said, quoted in a statement.
He also said that in recent years, Sri Lanka’s trade with China, had grown faster than with many other countries and last year China became the largest importer for the island country.
“42% of our total imports from the world in 2016 came from China at a value of $ 4.2 billion. The result was that China is now the largest global supplier to Sri Lanka,” Bathiudeen said.
According to the Sri Lanka Department of Commerce (SLDOC), Sri Lanka’s top exports to China last year were Ceylon Tea, coconut, footwear parts, apparel, and rubber tyres.
Sri Lanka’s largest export to China five years ago was ‘various types of fibres’ followed by Ceylon Tea, but by last year, Ceylon Tea had topped the exports list, the Minister said.
Top imports from China last year were mobile phones, boats and vessels, handmade fabrics, and petroleum.
Mobile phones remained as the largest import item from China to Sri Lanka during the last five year period, Bathiudeen noted.
According to the SLDOC, in 2016 Sri Lanka’s total bilateral trade with China was 4.4 billion dollars, a huge 363 percent increase in comparison to a decade back in 2007, when trade with China stood at 965 million dollars.