Thailand and Sri Lanka to restart trade deal talks

Officials from Thailand will arrive in Sri Lanka today to restart trade deal talks. Sri Lanka announced that it would

Thailand Sri Lanka trade

Delegates from Thailand arrive in Sri Lanka today to restart trade talks with the hopes of securing a Free Trade Agreement by the end of the year – Photo: AFP file photo

Officials from Thailand will arrive in Sri Lanka today to restart trade deal talks.

Sri Lanka announced that it would restart trade deal talks, stalled over disagreements on debt relief, and delayed by the pandemic and Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, with Thailand, India, and China after a four-year hiatus.

As of 2021, Thai-Sri Lankan bilateral trade was valued at around $460 million. Sri Lanka’s trade ministry hopes to conclude the trade talks by the end of 2023 or early 2024. With Sri Lanka’s economy projected to contract by 8.7% in 2022, the country’s chief negotiator of free trade agreements (FTAs), K.J. Weerasinghe, noted that the talks would be focused on enhancing exports to Thailand, and attracting investment in manufacturing, which would be critical to achieving the projected economic uptick in the latter half of 2023.

Thailand and Sri Lanka are likely to sign an FTA by the end of 2023. A greater uptick in foreign investment in Sri Lanka from Thailand is likely if the FTA is signed, which will serve to reduce Sri Lanka’s dependency on China, particularly in manufactured goods, and open its economy to other Southeast Asian powerhouses.