Sri Lanka assured its industrialists that the forthcoming China FTA is designed keeping the local industry concerns in mind. Sri Lanka will also hold comprehensive informational sessions on the forthcoming China FTA after Lankan industrialists called for better transparency in the process on 14 August in Colombo.
“We will not allow local industries and employment to be hit by any Free Trade Agreements” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 14 August at the Ministry offices in Colombo. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing Lankan industrialists who gathered for a pre-consultation session for the forthcoming Budget conducted by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Joining Minister Bathiudeen were Secretary to Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthana Lokuhetti and other top officials.
Industrialists from footwear, electrical and electronic products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, rubber, wood, automotive components, boat building, processed food and packaging were gathered at the 14 August session. Reps from Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka, Rubber Associations and Food Processors Associations were also joining the session with Minister Bathiudeen.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, in the five year period of 2012 to 2016, Chinese imports to Sri Lanka surged by a strong 67% (from 2012’s $2.56 Bn).Even on a Year on year basis, Chinese imports in 2016 increased by 15% to US $ 4.27 Bn from 2015’s $3.73 Bn. Among leading imports from China to Sri Lanka in 2016 were mobile phones, light-vessels and dredgers, semi-finished iron / non-alloy steel products, automatic data processing machines, fertilizers, projectors, and net fabrics.
Several industrialists voiced that they are in the dark regarding the FTA work’s progress with regard to sectoral coverage of each industry by the forthcoming FTA.
The minister directed officials to conduct a rapid industry assessment of all the industries that want some assurance on the China FTA. and produce the assessment results in two weeks. A comprehensive informational sessions on the forthcoming China FTA will be held for industrialists so that they are prepared.
According to the Department of Commerce in 2016 Sri Lanka’s total bilateral trade with China was $ 4.4 billion, a huge 363% increase in comparison to a decade back in 2007 (at $965 Mn), and even an 11% annual YoY increase in 2016 -from 2015’s $ 4 Bn.