Thailand is unlikely to be able to sign the Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka this year as expected, a high-ranking Thai state official has told the Bangkok Post.
Director-general of the Trade Negotiations Department, Boonyarit Kalayanamit has said the planned Thailand-Sri Lanka FTA is still being studied and is likely to be completed in July.
"We expect the two dialogue partners to open talks late this year, starting with the liberalisation of trade in goods," he said.
On Feb 17, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak, who met Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama, said the two countries aimed to sign an FTA later this year to triple bilateral trade to US$1.5 billion over the next five years.
Mr. Somkid also proposed that Thailand and Sri Lanka conduct parallel strategic cooperation in certain areas in order to expedite mutual economic benefit for the two countries, as FTAs require time for negotiations.
The cooperation is set to be conducted both on a government-to-government and private-to-private basis.
The sectors in which Sri Lanka is eager to attract Thai investment include jewellery, electronics, consumer products and industrial estates, the news article said.
Sri Lanka and Thailand first began considering an FTA in 2016, when Mr. Somkid made an official visit to Sri Lanka.
The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on technical cooperation, a letter of intent on cooperation in small and medium-sized enterprise development and a joint programme on tourism for the period of 2016-2018.
Mr. Boonyarit said the Thai government intends to kick off the trade talks as quickly as possible, particularly on issues where the two countries are most prepared, including trade in goods, before extending talks to cover the service and investment sectors.