ECONOMYNEXT – The United States still wants to go ahead with a proposed trade agreement with Sri Lanka despite new President Donald Trump’s desire to renegotiate other trade deals, a visiting American official said.
Mark Linscott, new Assistant US Trade Representative, South and Central Asian Affairs Office of the US Trade Representative, said that he is not expecting any significant changes in the US’ bilateral trade with Sri Lanka.
“It is tough to predict the future,” he said at a meeting Sri Lankan Ministry of Industry and Commerce officials led by Secretary of Ministry of Industry and Commerce Chinthaka Lokuhetti.
“The new US administration has a significant shift in change towards several of its trade agreements – mainly the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal; and there is a big focus on re-negotiating NAFTA as well as correcting our current trade deficits too.”
But he added: “Despite this I am not expecting any significant changes in US’ bilateral trade with Sri Lanka or our Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with Sri Lanka.”
Linscott was quoted as saying in a statement that being a hub in the region, this is a remarkably exciting time for Sri Lanka and the US shares the interest in working with Sri Lanka and exploiting its natural advantages for better trade.
“The WTO Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) would bring immediate international attention if Sri Lanka moves ahead while I agree that these are challenging initiatives for the country,” Linscott said.
The US is also pleased of the government’s Private Public Partnership vision which TIFA too stresses, he said.
The US-Sri Lanka Trade & Investment Framework Agreement was signed in July 2002 in Washington D.C. to enhance trade and economic relations between the two countries.
Linscott said the US is looking to move on from the past and create a special trade plan for Sri Lanka on TIFA.
Lokuhetti said Sri Lanka welcomes the recent US support by expanding its GSP scope which enhances the island’s exports of travel goods to the US.
“Sri Lanka has one of the highest US GSP utilisation rates among other US GSP beneficiaries –we use 85%. Therefore it is time we see more new initiatives via TIFA.”
(COLOMBO, Sept 18, 2017)
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