Singapore

S’pore, Sri Lanka sign free trade pact

Singapore and Sri Lanka have signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that will provide tariff savings and grant Singapore companies greater access to the Sri Lankan market.

The deal guarantees that for the next 15 years, Singapore companies will not have to pay tariffs on 80 per cent of product categories sold in Sri Lanka, said Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI).

Tariff savings for Singapore exports will come up to an estimated $10 million annually, MTI added.

The FTA also covers services, with both countries committing to open up markets for professional, environmental, construction, tourism and travel-related services.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who witnessed the signing yesterday, said Singapore companies will benefit from greater access to Sri Lanka, both in exports and investments.

One key factor that led to the successful negotiations was the fact that the current Sri Lankan government is on a path of economic reform and liberalisation, he added.

When Mr Lee arrived at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday, a band played Majulah Singapura and the Sri Lankan anthem before a 19-gun salute was fired. Mr Lee, who is on an official visit, then met with President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. It was his first meeting with Mr Sirisena after he was elected in 2015.

The two discussed education, trade, tourism, investments and drug policy, as well as ways to enhance cooperation.

Mr Lee also encouraged Sri Lanka to enhance its engagements with Asean.

Adding that it was a good meeting, Mr Lee said of Mr Sirisena: "He is warm. He is an admirer of Singapore. He visits Singapore quite regularly on a personal basis, and he would like to do more with us."

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES TODAY

BUSINESS & FINANCE