Sri Lanka exporters are willing to welcome investments that come to Sri Lanka though foreign direct investment (FDIs), The Daily Morning Business learnt.
Speaking to The Daily Morning Business on Monday (8), National Chamber of Exporters (NCE) Secretary General Shiham Marikar stated: “If there is an area where an investment can come in – through theses free trade agreements – in terms of joint ventures as exporters are looking forward to ways and means to expand their facilities, these are very well welcome.”
When Sri Lanka awaits responses from Indian and Chinese authorities to resume negotiations on the proposed China- Sri Lanka FTA and Economic Technology Co-operation Agreement (ECTA) with India, Marikar highlighted that non- tariff barriers such as quota restrictions, port restrictions, especially as faced with the existing FTA with India, needs to be negotiated while “keeping in mind that we are signing this agreement with economic giants”.
He reiterated the fact that in a country such as India, Sri Lanka cannot compete with the price where Sri Lanka has to be “very careful” while not making the country a dumping ground.
He also said that when negotiations are being held for FTAs, the NCE has urged the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka (EDB) and other authorities to get the private sector, including NCE, onboard in order to communicate the ongoing situation on the ground with facts and figures.
He also reiterated the fact that Sri Lanka is to negotiate FTAs are “economic giants”, Sri Lanka being a smaller country needs to take “extra care” in safeguarding local industries.
“Usually in a free trade agreement, there are few local companies that get affected. We need to identify these companies that are going to get affected and they should be empowered. So that they can withstand any pressure that comes in due to this free trade agreement signing, ” Marikar stressed.
At the same time, he said that as a Chamber, they are affirmative on open economy or free trade agreement concept while the country needs to ensure that local SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) are given proper tools to strengthen their business to face the challenges.
Moreover, the negotiating body for the India FTA are, in fact, in touch with the NCE while the NCE also conducted programmes where the Chief Negotiators were invited for panel discussions in which exports were also allowed to raise their concerns and understand the ground level situation with FTAs, he said.