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Colombo contemplating joining Trans-Pacific Partnership: Samaraweera

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Sri Lanka is “very seriously” exploring the possibility of applying to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), according to Mangala Samaraweera, Foreign Minister.

The TPP, having 12 countries as its members, is aimed at establishing new, market-oriented rules in international commerce and reducing trade and investment barriers.  The United States, Singapore, Japan and Australia, are among the member-countries which signed a pact early this month. As per an estimate, the member-countries account for around 36 per cent of world Gross Domestic Product or $ 28 trillion.

Delivering a talk at the US Institute of Peace in Washington DC on Thursday, Mr Samaraweera said a leading government think tank was preparing a feasibility study and “we will be continuously evaluating developments on this front.”

Giving his government’s plans for improving foreign trade, he termed India as one of the world’s largest markets and said “we are leveraging this unique geo-economic location to accelerate growth: negotiations are already underway to deepen our existing free trade agreement (FTA) with India, which we hope to complete by the middle of this year.”  A similar exercise was on the cards with Pakistan.

Acknowledging that Colombo had lost GSP Plus concessions due to the previous government’s "human rights violations," he said that subsequent to the “successful visit” of the EU Working Group on Human Rights to Sri Lanka,  a formal application was being finalised to seek the concessions again, which, he hoped, would be regained by the end of this year.  

Pointing out that Sri Lanka was holding discussions to sign a FTA with China, the Minister said  his country had some concessionary access to the US market through the GSP facility and also signed a trade and investment framework agreement. “Upgrading these ties by signing a free trade agreement will go a long way in propelling Sri Lanka to achieving its economic and development,” he added.

Referring to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s participation at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January and President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to Germany and Austria this month, Mr Samaraweera said the interest shown by investors was “well beyond our own expectations.”

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 8:45:50 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/colombo-contemplating-joining-transpacific-partnership-samaraweera/article8285976.ece

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