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Sri Lanka-Thailand FTA to lower tariffs on 85% of products

By: Staff Writer

March 11, Colombo (LNW): Thailand became the second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economy to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka, following the FTA signed earlier with Singapore.

A major goal of an FTA is to lower trade costs by reducing border tariffs and eliminating behind-the-border barriers for competitively traded products.

Salient features of the SLTFTA tariff schedules include immediate concessions for a limited number of products, a 15-year phased tariff reduction plan for most of the products, and uncommitted products which are excluded from any commitment for tariff reduction or elimination.

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industries and Department of Commerce organized a seminar on “Exploring Opportunities and Implications of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement” at the Auditorium of Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) on 29th February, 2024 for Sri Lankan exporters.

The seminar aimed to raise awareness among the Sri Lankan business community and provide a platform for exploring new business opportunities available in the “Trade in Goods Chapter” under Sri Lanka Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA).

Notably, the tariff liberalisation programme is not limited to custom duties, but also expands to para-tariffs.

Given that 25.6% of products are already under zero tariffs in the case of Thailand, the SLTFTA commits to reduce or eliminate tariffs on 59.4% of products for Sri Lanka.

Thailand provides immediate concessions for Sri Lanka over 2,188 products, while tariffs on 4,597 products will be subject to phased reduction within 15 years. Thailand’s uncommitted list includes 1,708 (or 15% of products).

By contrast, only 17.4% of products are under zero tariff currently in the case of Sri Lanka, implying that Sri Lanka will reduce or eliminate tariffs on 67.6% of products through the SLTFTA.

Under the agreement, Sri Lanka commits to immediate concessions for 2,722 products (or 33.4%), reducing or eliminating tariffs on 2,796 products within 15 years, and maintaining 1,224 products on the uncommitted list (15%).

By the end of the tariff phase-out, both countries will have 85% of products under zero tariffs, or tariffs liberalised under the SLTFTA.

The seminar featured eminent panel comprising Mr. K.J Weerasinghe, Chief Negotiator, Office for International Trade, Presidential Secretariat, Mr. K.A Vimalenthirajah, Director General, Department of Trade and Investment Policies, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Sanjeewa Pattiwila, Director of Commerce, Department of Commerce, who shared valuable insights on SLTFTA.

The session witnessed the participation of over 150 representatives from the exporter community, public sector and academia.

Through presentations and spirited discussions under  Q & A session, participants gained a deeper understanding of the strategic framework requirements which are shaping the bilateral trade relationship between Sri Lanka and Thailand in terms of exploration of potential, visualizing a landscape suitable with opportunities for growth, innovation, and prosperity.

Thailand became the second Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) economy to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka, following the FTA signed earlier with Singapore.

A major goal of an FTA is to lower trade costs by reducing border tariffs and eliminating behind-the-border barriers for competitively traded products.

Salient features of the SLTFTA tariff schedules include immediate concessions for a limited number of products, a 15-year phased tariff reduction plan for most of the products, and uncommitted products which are excluded from any commitment for tariff reduction or elimination.

The Sri Lanka Export Development Board (EDB) in collaboration with the Ministry of Industries and Department of Commerce organized a seminar on “Exploring Opportunities and Implications of the Sri Lanka-Thailand Free Trade Agreement” at the Auditorium of Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) on 29th February, 2024 for Sri Lankan exporters.

The seminar aimed to raise awareness among the Sri Lankan business community and provide a platform for exploring new business opportunities available in the “Trade in Goods Chapter” under Sri Lanka Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA).

Notably, the tariff liberalisation programme is not limited to custom duties, but also expands to para-tariffs.

Given that 25.6% of products are already under zero tariffs in the case of Thailand, the SLTFTA commits to reduce or eliminate tariffs on 59.4% of products for Sri Lanka.

Thailand provides immediate concessions for Sri Lanka over 2,188 products, while tariffs on 4,597 products will be subject to phased reduction within 15 years. Thailand’s uncommitted list includes 1,708 (or 15% of products).

By contrast, only 17.4% of products are under zero tariff currently in the case of Sri Lanka, implying that Sri Lanka will reduce or eliminate tariffs on 67.6% of products through the SLTFTA.

Under the agreement, Sri Lanka commits to immediate concessions for 2,722 products (or 33.4%), reducing or eliminating tariffs on 2,796 products within 15 years, and maintaining 1,224 products on the uncommitted list (15%).

By the end of the tariff phase-out, both countries will have 85% of products under zero tariffs, or tariffs liberalised under the SLTFTA.

The seminar featured eminent panel comprising Mr. K.J Weerasinghe, Chief Negotiator, Office for International Trade, Presidential Secretariat, Mr. K.A Vimalenthirajah, Director General, Department of Trade and Investment Policies, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Sanjeewa Pattiwila, Director of Commerce, Department of Commerce, who shared valuable insights on SLTFTA.

The session witnessed the participation of over 150 representatives from the exporter community, public sector and academia.

Through presentations and spirited discussions under  Q & A session, participants gained a deeper understanding of the strategic framework requirements which are shaping the bilateral trade relationship between Sri Lanka and Thailand in terms of exploration of potential, visualizing a landscape suitable with opportunities for growth, innovation, and prosperity.

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