Forthcoming FTA with China is not a blindsided move but is a process involving studies and even relevant stakeholder consultations. “We are still at initial study phase and we will not finalize product lists without consulting Lankan stakeholders such as various chambers and industries,” assured Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka Rishad Bathiudeen to the oldest Industry Chamber in the country on October 31 in Colombo.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing a delegation led by new Chairman, CNCI Gamini Gunasekara on October 31 at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Also taking part were Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena and additional secretaries, officials of Department of Commerce and CNCI officials.
Commenced in 1960, pioneering CNCI is the foremost service facilitator as well as the voice of the Industry. Currently, it consists of almost 300 members including SMEs. It is representative of all the industry sectors of Sri Lanka. Along with new Chairman Gunasekara, reps from such firms as Union Chemicals Lanka, Browns Group, EB Creasy, Central Industries, and Sinwa Holdings were meeting Minister Bathiudeen on October 31.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the total trade turnover between Sri Lanka and China which stood at US $ 658.94 million in 2005 has increased by a massive 306% to $ 2676.13 million by 2012. In the corresponding period, exports to China increased by 286% to $108 million. This is an achievement considering the fact that of the 50 Asian Countries only 8 including Sri Lanka were able to maintain a positive export growth to China since 2008. Latest statistics show that China has also entered the first 25 export destinations for Sri Lankan products.
Having congratulated CNCI new Chairman Gunasekara on his new appointment and welcoming him, Minister Bathiudeen continued: “Lanka-China FTA is a major force to address our trade imbalance with China and increase our export volumes. We are still at initial study phase and we will not finalize product lists without consulting Lankan stakeholders such you and various other Chambers and industries. It is not a closed process but a transparent one. Once the initial studies are concluded, stakeholder meetings will commence. Of course, we will carefully craft market access on our side. Accordingly, we look forward to your valuable inputs. We will also take into account of the strengths of our trading partner, and product lists under other FTAs including Indo–Lanka, Lanka-Pakistan and APTA when we finalize the product lists in this regard.”