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China, Sri Lanka to hold discussions on FTA

Updated: May 3,2016 7:35 AM     Xinhua

COLOMBO — Sri Lanka and China will hold high-level discussions in June on the possibility of signing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a statement on May 2.

“China is a promising market for Sri Lanka’s select, premium products such as gems, and an important round of bilateral talks on Sri Lanka-China FTA is scheduled for next month,” the statement quoted Rishard Bathiudeen, minister of industry and commerce, as saying.

The minister said that Sri Lanka was committed to pursuing an outward oriented trade regime following the principles of the World Trade Organization, with a view to enhancing overseas market access for its export products and achieving greater integration into the world economy.

Sri Lanka has already signed FTAs with India and Pakistan and both the agreements allow more than 4000 product lines to be exported to these markets at zero duty.

He added that trade between Sri Lanka and China crossed the $4 billion mark last year for the first time in the bilateral trade history, surging by 17 percent from 2014’s $3.58 billion.

About 93 percent of last year’s total trade was imports from China, mainly iron and steel, fabrics & fibres, cotton and urea fertilizer.