China-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would boost trade – EDB Chief

Suresh De Mel, Chairman, Export Development Board (EDB).

A Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China would boost Sri Lanka’s efforts to diversify its export market base, a senior government official said.

“If a FTA is signed with China, it would tremendously assist us in diversifying the narrow export market base, as we are heavily over reliant on few market areas,” Export Development Board (EDB) Chairman, Suresh De Mel said.

Sri Lanka and China decided to enter into a FTA in August 2013 to further expand trade between the two countries, and the two sides have held talks since then. Sri Lanka’s top five export destinations in 2020 were the United States, Britain, India, Germany and Italy, which together absorbed 50 per cent of exports.

Shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic caused Sri Lanka’s merchandise export revenue to dip from 11.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2019 to 9.9 billion dollars in 2020.

However, export segments such as coconut and coconut-based products, spices and concentrates, and other export crops saw considerable growth.

“We are making local producers aware of the food regulations in the international market to encourage them to adhere to the quality and safety standards in export destinations,” Mr. De Mel said.

Mr. De Mel also said that the EDB has a Market Access Support Scheme to enable local export-oriented SMEs to upgrade their technology and meet international quality standards.