“It is important to remember that free trade agreements (FTAs) have become vital especially, for small countries like Sri Lanka, which have opened up their economies, which may not be that successful in facing up to the high competition in the global market,” stated Commerce Department Director General Sonali Wijeratne at the Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE)
The COYLE high-profile and successful General Meeting was held at Waters Edge, Colombo recently.
Delivering the welcome speech, COYLE Chairman Kasun Rajapaksa highlighted Wijeratne’s competence at the Commerce Department since 1985 to date. Rajapaksa further stated that the COYLE is an organisation that reflects a new way of thinking as well as a youthful energy that is much needed for a dynamic Sri Lanka.
Following the welcome speech, the chief guest, Wijeratne briefed the members on ‘Advantages and disadvantages of the free trade agreements to Sri Lankan economy’.
Sri Lanka continued strengthening its trade ties by actively engaging in negotiations at multilateral, regional and bilateral levels. We have been successful in entering into a number of FTAs both with individual countries as well as countries in the region as groups. Negotiations are also underway with many other regional groups for the purpose of having FTAs, whilst the agreements already entered into are also being reviewed periodically in order to move further forward, she explained.
Sri Lanka has shown interest in exploring a bilateral trade agreement with China. Both countries now have agreed that they would embark on an FTA, which hopes to open up the vast Chinese market to Sri Lanka’s producers, manufacturers and exporters.
The question and answer (Q&A) session evinced much enthusiasm amongst the COYLE members and offered the opportunity to discuss matters pertaining to Indo-Sri Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperative Agreement (ETCA). “We should not forget that FTAs would aim to get the best for their own country and it is up to us to negotiate what is best for Sri Lanka,” Wijeratne concluded.