Encourages Sri Lanka to ratify WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement
Expressing confidence in economic ties between the US and Sri Lanka reaching greater potential, a top US Trade Representative affirmed the newly announced Joint Action Plan will help strengthen the foundation in which the relationship would be further built.
Speaking on the benefits that would stem from the Joint Action Plan that was announced Friday (29), Head of the U.S. Delegation Ambassador Michael Froman said the US hopes to set forth a series of concrete and specific initiatives to strengthen Sri Lanka’s trade and investment regime, while mobilizing more of the Sri Lankan population to participate in a trade-oriented economy.
“We believe that this Action Plan, if fully implemented, will improve the competitiveness of key industries; promote new industries through innovation, and fully leverage Sri Lanka’s geographic strengths as a crossroads for commerce,” said Froman while addressing the 12th Joint Council Meeting under the US- Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
It has pointed out that the US believes that the “comprehensive” reform would create much greater opportunities for US exporters and investors.
While acknowledging the island nation boasts one of the region’s most educated workforces, the representative stressed the action plan would capitalize on this facet by promoting the economic contributions of women in the economy, as well as generating employment and higher living standards for locals.
“We are demonstrating that trade and investment policy based on respect for workers and the environment is the right thing to do -- both morally and economically. Done right, trade policy advances both our interests and our values,” affirmed Froman.
Forman also gave Sri Lanka a few words of advice where he stated the nation could cater to the unmet demand in South Asia for a regional services hub provided it has in place the right policies. However, it was asserted Sri Lanka would have to focus on making it “much easier” to move goods and services into and out of the country to make that “dream a reality”.
Furthermore, the Ambassador encouraged the nation to ratify the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), which would help Sri Lanka plug into global supply chains and enhance integration with its neighbors.
He stressed that upon ratification Sri Lanka will be eligible to request assistance from the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation, which can provide assistance to implement and take advantage of the benefits the Trade Facilitation Agreement provides.
“The United States has made available $40 million to the Global Alliance’s pool of funds, and I would like to see Sri Lanka apply to make use of some of those resources. We are also seeking to promote bilateral trade and investment flows through additional development assistance,” stated Froman.
The two countries began discussing and exchanging plans for further economic and development engagement during the first annual US - Sri Lanka Partnership Dialogue in Washington last year. (SAA)