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Minister Malik Samarawickrema visited Thailand from 16th – 18th February to explore avenues of expanding and diversifying the bilateral trade & investment relations and progressing on the establishment of the industrial parks as an aspect of the Sri Lanka Government’s economic policy. The Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources, Mahinda Amaraweera and State Minister of Agriculture,Wasantha Aluvihare also joined this visit in the context of furthering these two primary areas of cooperation between the countries. 

Minister Samarawickrema had discussionson 17th February with the Thai Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Somkid Jatusripitak at which the Minister of Commerce, ApiradiTantraporn, was associated.

Recalling the protracted process in formulating the envisaged Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries which is underway, Deputy Prime Minister Somkid proposed the relationship be elevated to a strategic economic partnership, as a precursor toits conclusion. Minister Samarawickrema welcoming this proposal underlined the need to identify focused cooperation in priority areas for the two countries. The areas of agriculture, gems & jewellery, electronics, rubber-based industries, consumer products, industrial parks and tourism were some which were originally outlined by Minister Samarawickrema. The two sides undertook to identify the priority sectors of cooperation under this partnership for formalization. In furtherance of the bilateral economic ties Deputy Prime Minister Somkid undertook to visit Sri Lanka in August 2017, with a high level delegation in response to the Sri Lankan Minister’s invitation.

Minister Samarawickrema assured the Thai Deputy Prime Minister of the political stability in Sri Lanka with the formation of a national unity government, where the main two political parties are working together towards the country’s development. He added that the government is reviewing the regulations for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in order to make them more investor friendly. The Minister pointed out that measures are being taken to re-invigorate the Indo-Lanka FTA and that with Pakistan, while it is expected to conclude such agreements with China and Singapore this year. 

The FTA and deepening of economic ties with Thailand are all aimed at tripling bilateral trade to reach the target of USD 1.5 billion over the next five years as endorsed by the leaders of the two countries.

The visiting Ministers also met with the Thai Minister of Industry, Dr. UttamaSavanayana, who emphasized the need for countries of the Asian region to come together as partners in the present international climate. He explained that Thailand is working on their digital infrastructure, e-commerce structures, to also bring the rural areas into the mainstream economic system. Minister Samarawickrema noted that Sri Lanka has much to learn from the Kingdom’s successful industrial development.He referred to the need of Thai businessmen having increased commercial links with Sri Lanka, and informed that the government is exploring ways to improve the country’s world ranking in ease of doing business. The Minister proposed that considering the developed Thai gem &jewellery industry and the availability of high quality gem stones, joint ventures could be established in Sri Lanka. This would enable access to the large subcontinent market for  jewellery through the Sri Lanka FTAs. 

Minister Samarawickrema also requested for there to be transfer of technological knowledge, capital and regular exchanges at official level. He confirmed Sri Lanka’s participation in the industry fair to be held in Bangkok in July 2017.

The delegation visited Amata Nakorn Industrial Estate in Chonburi Province, and with the Ambassador of Thailand to Sri Lanka, to the Rojana Industrial Park in Ayutthaya to learn at firsthand on the establishment, management and maintenance of industrial parks as well as their best practices and marketing of such facilities.The Ministers were also met by the founder and CEO of Amata Corporation, VikromKromadit, who offered to share his experience in the area of industrial estate development.

The Minister of Fisheries & Aquatic Resources and State Minister of Agriculture took the opportunity to highlight the areas of interests during the discussions with the Thai Deputy Prime Minister and the Ministers of Commerce and Industry. In this context, it was outlined that Thai investors should consider the Aquaculture parks in Sri Lanka, with special interest in crab and prawn breeding. They brought these prospects to the attention of the Thai private sector. 

Meetings with the private sector were facilitated by the Board of Trade, with representatives from the associations of rice producers, tuna& frozen food, processed food, hospitality, sugar, textiles & apparel, gem &jewellery, heavy machinery, construction, energy, automotive partsand financial services. Minister Samarawickrema underscored the advantages of investing in Sri Lanka and pointed out the need for developing Sri Lanka’s export basket by introducing new value-added products for which related technologies and processes needed to increase yields are available with Thai companies who could forge joint ventures with Sri Lankan counterparts. A presentation was made by the BOI of Sri Lanka. Thai companies present demonstrated eagerness in collaborating with Sri Lankan business enterprises, which were noted for progressing.  

The Chairpersonof the Export Development Board, Director General of Board of Investment, Director General of Department of Agriculture and Director General of National Aquaculture Development Authority (NAQDA)of Sri Lanka also joined this visit, together with KshenukaSenewiratne, Ambassador of Sri Lanka to Thailand.

 

Board of Investments Sri Lanka                    edb                Imports and Exports Control Department                mahapola

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