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China pushes for FTA as SL’s economic crisis deepens

22 March 2022 04:26 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Kelum Bandara
Chinese Ambassador Qi Zhenhong said yesterday that Sri Lanka would secure better market access for its products in China, if the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) were signed.


Making his remarks at a press conference, where he revealed that the Sri Lankan authorities had requested loan facilities up to US $ 2.5 billion from China, to deal with the worst economic crisis since the country’s independence, the ambassador said the FTA would reduce tariffs on imports and exports and establish an institutional framework for trade in goods, services, investment and economic and technical cooperation.


He said China has signed FTAs with 26 countries and regions.China is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka, with the balance of trade heavily in favour of China. In 2021, the bilateral trade volume reached US $ 5 billion between the two countries, an increase of 32 percent from 2020. Sri Lanka’s exports to China stood at US $ 274 million, up by 23 percent compared to the previous year.


The Chinese envoy said Sri Lankan products such as tea, gems, jewellery and textiles are popular among people in his country.


The two countries have conducted six rounds of negotiations on the FTA. The next round is expected to be conducted in near future.


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