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Malaysia pledges support for Sri Lanka’s bid to join RCEP

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): Malaysia has pledged support to Sri Lanka’s application for membership in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

This was stated by Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dato Seri Diraja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir who held discussions with Prime Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at Temple Trees in Colombo.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Gunawardena stated that Sri Lanka’s entry into RCEP would bolster its economic connectivity within the broader South East Asian region and the Malaysian Minister assured fullest support to Sri Lanka and said, “Sri Lanka belongs to our region.”

The Prime Minister affirmed the government’s alignment with the future vision of ASEAN for the Indo-Pacific area, pledging full support for the advancement of this economic perspective.

Malaysia has agreed to support Sri Lanka’s application to become a member of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a major regional trade agreement.

The RCEP is a free trade agreement among the Asia-Pacific nations of Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

During the meeting, the Malaysian Foreign Minister expressed a strong desire to bolster economic ties between the two nations, according to a president’s media division statement.

He emphasized Malaysia’s eagerness to facilitate increased investments from Malaysian companies in Sri Lanka.

He also expressed positivity towards Sri Lanka’s request to commence negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries, which could potentially open up new avenues for trade and economic cooperation.

Sri Lanka aims to expand its economic reach first within South Asia and then extend further.Data shows that Sri Lanka has been able to boost exports with FTAs.

Over the past two decades Sri Lanka’s exports have not grown as much as competitors.

Economists involved in trade have pointed out that Sri Lanka should make joining the RCEP a priority instead of trying to negotiate multiple smaller deals for which it does not have the bandwidth in government, or the technical resources to do multiple trade agreements

The Prime Minister and the visiting Minister discussed bilateral relations with special emphasis on cooperation in regional groupings such as Indian Ocean Rim Association for enhancing trade and investment cooperation.

Premier Gunawardena invited Malaysian entrepreneurs to enter into new areas of investments in Sri Lanka in the growing hospitality industry, education and pharmaceuticals industry

Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Ali Sabry has held a bilateral meeting in Colombo with his Malaysian counterpart Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, who is currently undertaking an official visit to the island.

In a tweet, the foreign minister said they discussed on the ways to improve bilateral relations between the two nations in the areas of political, economic, trade, investment and tourism.

The Malaysian Foreign Minister is undertaking an official visit to Sri Lanka ahead of attending the 23rd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers Meeting (COM) on Oct 11.

The Malaysian foreign minister will also hold an engagement session with the Sri Lankan business community to explore the economic potential between the two countries.

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