Jan 18, 2017

SL-Thai FTA study to conclude by August

Sri Lanka – Thai FTA study is set to conclude by August 2017. Sri Lanka is also looking for sugar purchases from Thailand.

During his visit to Thailand to take part in the APTA Ministerial Council Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen met Thai Minister of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn.

He also met Thai Consumer goods exporters to Sri Lanka, a leading sugar exporting company Mitrphol and also product manufacturer and a consultant of the Thai government’s OTOP project.

The Thai exporters of consumer goods to Sri Lanka (sprats, rice, canned fish, green gram, sago seeds, shoes, and vehicle parts) met Minister Bathiudeen on 12th January 2017. Minister Bathiudeen explained that his Ministry is going to open 80 Sathosa outlets, which totals up to 500 outlets by the end of this year and also open 8000 new franchise outlets, selling Sri Lankan products. Hence he called the meeting in order to identify suppliers of consumer goods, to educate them about expectations of Sathosa and also to get supplier’s feedback to improve the importing system of Sathosa. Hon Minister requested for samples and prices of rice and sprats from the exporters. For perishable goods price will be called on a weekly basis in future. The industry encouraged direct purchasing from importers, after identifying trust worthy direct importers, which might be useful to maintain the quality of the imports. Further it was mentioned that it is impractical to set a control price for imported goods. For sprats setting up a standard for moisture content at 10% is impractical and needs at least to be 20%. Considering samples to represent large dried fish supplies was also pointed out as impractical by the industry.

Due to the fact that Sri Lankan sugar importers have decided to halt importing sugar from Brazil as cocaine is smuggled in sugar containers, Minister Bathiudeen met one of the largest sugar exporting company in Thailand called ‘Mitr Phol Sugar Corp Ltd’ to see the possibility of importing sugar from Thailand. The company was asked to provide information on sugar prices and the capacity they can supply.

Minister Bathiudeen was interested in OTOP project of the Thai government, which include the concept of promoting ‘one product for one village’, a meeting was held with an OTOP consultant and also a fruit juice manufacturer under the OTOP project. The Minister showed interest to get their assistance to bring in experts to Sri Lanka in order to produce dried fruit products. They were asked to provide a report of the two projects; OTOP and Royal Project and also Hon Minister expressed interest to visit an OTOP fair in future.

On 13th January 2017 Minister Bathiudeen met Thai Minister of Commerce Apiradi Tantraporn. Both sides exchanged pleasantries and then discussed the ways for cooperation in order to promote trade between the two countries. On Sri Lankan Minister’s inquiry on the proposed FTA and dates for the 2nd Sub Committee Meeting on Trade Related Matters, the Thai side mentioned that they will be completing the feasibility study on FTA by August this year and the dates for the 2nd Sub Committee Meeting will be informed. Minister Bathiudeen requested technical assistance in the areas of gem & jewelry, food processing, agriculture, electronics, automobile components, Thai Minister’s assistance to promote 2 to 3 Thai dry fruit manufacturing companies to invest in Sri Lanka and cooperation in OTOP projects. Recalling the global tea quota in Thailand, the Sri Lankan Minister insisted to promote imports of Ceylon tea among the Thai importers within the quota framework since Ceylon tea is the best quality in the world.

The Thai Commerce Minister mentioned that the Thai government will continue the support for jewelry designing in future also adding that she will check with the Ministry of Interior for the possibility of cooperation in OTOP Projects and also provide support to identify companies to invest in dried fruits areas in Sri Lanka. Regarding the agricultural cooperation between the two countries, she agreed to seek the assistance of TICA to bring Agriculture experts to Sri Lanka.