Colombo (Sri Lanka): Negotiations for a possible FTA between China and Sri Lanka were launched in 2014 in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and former Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa when both sides continued to have several rounds of talks, Daily Mirror reported.
China had “awarded” Sri Lanka with a delayed response to its request for debt restructuring and now appears to pressure Sri Lanka into signing a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) under the guise of helping to restructure repayments.
The 5th round of China-Sri Lanka FTA negotiation was held in Colombo on Tuesday where the two sides exchanged views on issues concerning trade in goods, trade in service, investment, economic and technical cooperation, rule of origin, customs procedures and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade (TBT), sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) and trade remedy.
According to experts, the disadvantage for Sri Lanka is that China’s FTAs restrict the use of para-tariffs, such as the import levy used by Sri Lanka, Daily Mirror reported.
For a country like Sri Lanka, whose exports are limited to a few products, an agreement that reduces barriers to trade on thousands of other products but excludes these key exportable products from the world and from China will fail to facilitate Sri Lanka’s export growth.