Promotional visit to Queensland Region of Australia under the Economic Diplomacy Programme
The Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney in association with Honorary Consul Office in Brisbane organised the Sri Lankan promotional event in Brisbane from 3rd to 5th March 2020.Consul General, Mr. M.H.M.N. Bandara accompanied by Consul (Commercial), Mr. Abdul Raheem visited Brisbane and had series of meetings with Mr. David Phipps, Director/ International Markets of Trade and Investment in Queensland and Ms. Diana Guerguiera, Manager/International Trade of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Queensland and discussed trade, tourism and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka and way forward in connecting the Australian companies in the Queensland region with their Sri Lankan counterparts.
Report on the Business Interactive Session Held with Members of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry, 27 th February at the Sri Lanka High Commission, New Delhi
As per the Mission Action Plan 2020, Sri Lanka High Commission in New Delhi organized a busines interactive session for the members of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce & Industry under the theme of “BUSINESS AND INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN SRI LANKA” , at the High Commission premises on 27th February 2020. The main focus of the business interactive session was to promote Sri Lanka as a potential business and Investment destination and to provide information on opportunities available for the members of the BRICS Chamber of Commerce &Industry to select Sri Lanka as their next investment destination.
Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai hosts “Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Evening and Cultural night” in celebrating 40th anniversary of establishing Diplomatic relations Between Sri Lanka and the UAE
Commemorating the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and the UAE, the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai & Northern Emirates, hosted “Sri Lanka Tourism Promotional Evening and Cultural night” at the most sought-after location in Dubai- Armani Hotel housed in Burj Khalifa, in association with Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau being the main sponsor of the event.
Trade Talk- Stregnthening Trade and Investmet Partnership 2020
The High Commission of Sri Lanka together with Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI) and the Malaysia Sri Lanka Business Chamber (MSLBC) organized a Trade Talk on 25th February at the High Commission premises
Marina Square Highlights Investment Opportunities in Sri Lanka at the Investment Opportunity Forum
Marina Square – Uptown Colombo, Sri Lanka’s first and largest harbor front development project, attracted the attention of outstanding entrepreneurs, representatives of the real estate industry and people of all circles in China at the recently held Sri Lanka Investment Opportunity and Real Estate Investment Forum. Hosted at the Embassy of Sri Lanka in China, the Forum was attended by Dr. Karunasena Kodithuwakku – Sri Lankan Ambassador in China and Mr. Alexi Gunasekara – Minister (Commercial) to China
Sri Lanka participates in the Food Ingredient Europe 2019 in Paris
Sri Lanka Embassy in Paris, jointly with the Department of Commerce and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has organized the Sri Lanka`s participation in the “Food Ingredient Europe - 2019 exhibition” which was held from 3rd to 5th December 2019 in Paris, France.
Business and Investment Promotion Programme in Kerala by Sri Lanka Deputy High Commission in Chennai
Sri Lankan Deputy High Commissioner to Southern India, V.Krishnamoorthy along with Minister (Commercial) Yasantha De Silva undertook an official visit to Kerala from 18-20 December, 2019 with the objective of highlighting the trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.
Mega Consumer Tourism Promotion at Sri Lanka Food and Cultural Festival - 2019 in Sydney
Sri Lankan Tourism Consumer Promotional Event which was jointly organised by the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Sydney and the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), was held at Tumbalong Park, Darling Harbour from 23rd to 24th November 2019.
The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Turkey Host Networking Reception to Boost B2B Contact between Sri Lanka –Turkey Travel Agents
The Embassy of Sri Lanka in Turkey organized business networking reception for the visiting Sri Lankan travel trade delegation participated at the EXPO Travel Ankara fair 2019 at the Embassy on 14th November 2019.

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“Raising living standards of the people through international trade relations”


“To develop and promote Sri Lanka’s foreign trade relations at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels by the effective implementation of government trade policy, with a view to raising the standards of living and realizing a higher quality of life through the increase of total production, income and employment levels, thereby actively contributing to the overall economic growth of Sri Lanka.”

South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA)

saftaThe Agreement on South Asian Free Trade was finalized and signed by the Council of Ministers of the member states of SAARC on 6th January 2004 in Islamabad, Pakistan. The preliminary substantive work towards finalization of SAFTA was entrusted to the Committee of Experts (COE), which was established drawing expertise from the member states.

SAFTA aims at further enhancing the programme of regional economic integration through promotion of preferential trade, which began with the establishment of the South Asian Preferential Trading Arrangement (SAPTA) in 1995.

The Fifteenth SAARC Summit (Colombo, 2 - 3 August 2009) emphasized and directed the decision of revising the Sensitive Lists by SAFTA Ministerial Council (SMC) be implemented early. In this regard, it recommended and agreed to constitute an adhoc Working Group to commence work on the reduction in the size of the Sensitive Lists. The First Meeting of the Working Group took place on 10th February 2010 and it discussed the modalities proposed for the reduction in the number of tariff lines in the Sensitive Lists. The Meeting recommended the Member states to prepare their Request Lists bilaterally and keep the Secretariat informed. Following the receipts of the requests, the Members States will make their initial Offer Lists to all SAARC Member States through the SAARC Secretariat. The next meeting of the Working Group will take up further detail negotiations on the Request and Offer Lists with a view to finalizing them.

The Fifth Meeting of the Expert Group on SAARC Agreement on Trade in Services (SATIS) was held on 8 -9 February 2010 at the SAARC Secretariat at Kathmandu in Nepal. The Meeting resumed discussion on the Draft SATIS as revised by the Fourth Meeting of the Expert Group and finalized the Draft SATIS to be signed at a subsequent SAARC Summit by the leaders of the Members States. The Meeting also agreed that the discussion on specific schedules of commitments may commence after the Agreement is signed. The final draft of SATIS was signed at the 16th SAARC Summit held in Bhutan on 29th April 2010 by the leaders of the Member States and Sri Lanka ratified this Agreement on 2nd June 2010.

Asia - Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA)

The Asia - Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), formerly the Bangkok Agreement signed in 1975, is one of the Asia's oldest regional preferential trading agreements with six Participating States - Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka.

APTA is a dynamic regional agreement which has been instrumental in producing a favourable outcome to Sri Lanka. It is particularly important for Sri Lanka as it is the only trade agreement Sri Lanka partakes with China and the Republic of Korea.

The exports under the APTA have increased with the implementation of the third round of tariff liberalization in September 2006. Sri Lanka's total exports under APTA in 2009 have increased to US$ 49.48 Mn compared to US$ 35.3 Mn in 2008, recording a 40% growth. Remarkably, exports to China under APTA accounts for US$ 28.98 Mn in 2009, which marks an increase of 53%. Coir products, tea, natural rubber, apparel, fish products, activated carbon, wooden furniture, silver jewellery and porcelain ware are Sri Lanka’s main exports under APTA.

Further concessions are envisaged at the conclusion of the 4th Round of trade negotiations, which were launched at the Second Session of the Ministerial Council of the Asia Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), held on 26th October 2007 in Goa, India. Ministers launched this new Round with a view to further widening products coverage and deepening the tariff cuts and to adopt modalities for the extension of negotiations into other areas such as non-tariff measures, trade facilitation, services and investment. The Third Ministerial Council was held on 15th December, 2009 in Seoul, Republic of Korea. In addition, two framework agreements on Trade Facilitation and Promotion, Protection and Liberalization of Investment was signed.

Indo - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA)

The Indo - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA), which was signed on 28th December 1998 and entered into force with effect from 1 March 2000, aims at promoting economic linkages between India and Sri Lanka through enhancement of bilateral trade and investment. The Agreement covers only trade in goods and requires the two countries to offer market access for each other's exports on duty free basis and concessionary tariffs. The ISFTA does not provide for elimination of non-tariff barriers.

Sri Lanka's exports to India increased from US$ 164.51 Mn during the first seven months of 2009 to US$ 239.2 Mn during the corresponding period of 2010 registering a 45.4% growth. This increase was mainly due to a significant increase in exports such as spices (cloves, nutmeg, mace, pepper etc.), electrical machinery and parts, copper products, sheet rubber, pulp, confectionery & bakery products, tyres & tubes, glass products, wooden products, garments, apparel & clothing accessories, furniture, processed fruits & fruit juices, jewellery items etc. in the first seven months of 2010, when compared to the corresponding period of 2009. However, exports of certain products such as tea, ceramic products, cinnamon, gems, boilers & machinery parts, processed food, mineral sand, activated carbon etc. have recorded a decrease during January to July in 2010 compared to 2009.

Products Diversification under the ISFTA

While there has been a reduction in major exports such as vegetable oil, primary copper, margarine, marbles and pepper, a variety of other products have gained market access to India. They include insulated wires and cables, poultry feeds, pneumatic tyres, ceramics, apparel, furniture, air conditioners & coolers, measuring and checking instruments, glass bottles, processed meat products, Medium density Fiber (MDF) Boards, rubber gloves, thermal papers, tiles, stones and marbles, boilers & machinery parts, iron & steel articles, panel boards & enclosures, sacks and bags etc.

Pakistan - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA)

The Pakistan - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA), which came into force on 12th June 2005, has seen a substantial improvement in trade between the two countries, with the value of total trade between the two countries, which stood at US$ 147.1 Mn in 2004, increasing to US$ 370.38 Mn in 2015. Sri Lanka's exports which was at US$ 39.2 Mn in 2004 has increased to US$ 73.10 Mn in 2015, making Pakistan Sri Lanka's second largest trading partner in the SAARC region after India.

Sri Lanka's main exports to Pakistan include Pepper, Beedi leaves, Betel leaves, Coconut shell pieces, Natural rubber, Coconuts & cashew nuts in fresh or dried, Wood & articles of wood, Edible vegetables, Tea. A range of new products have also penetrated into the Pakistan market after the implementation of the PSFTA, including fresh pineapple, sports goods, tamarind with seeds, edible oil, porcelain tableware & kitchenware, ceramic tiles, furniture, electrical switches and sockets, herbal cosmetic products and plastic articles, paints, glass paintings, leather products, frozen fish, prawns, lobsters, crabs, cut flowers and foliage, gems & Jewellery and aquarium fish.

Both Countries have completed its phasing out commitment and now have the duty free market access for more than 4500 products in both countries.

World Trade Organization

The Department of Commerce acts as the national focal point for all WTO and WTO - related affairs in Sri Lanka and also represents the Government of Sri Lanka at all multilateral negotiations under the WTO. The DoC is currently actively involved in the protecting Sri Lanka's interests in the present Doha Round of negotiations, through representation in Geneva and through national stakeholder consultations.

The WTO is the main institutional framework under which Sri Lanka conducts its trade relations with some of her most important trading partners, including the United States, European Union, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

Sri Lanka became a founder member of the WTO when the organization was established in 1995. Prior to that, Sri Lanka was one of the 23 founder members of the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT). The Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations were undertaken under the auspices of GATT which led to the establishment of the WTO.

The multilateral trading system today is governed by the WTO agreements which govern trade in, inter alia, agriculture, trade in industrial goods, banking, telecommunication, industrial standards and product safety, food sanitation regulations, customs valuation, intellectual property and other areas. Trade under the WTO framework is governed by the principles of non-discrimination amongst Members and between domestic and foreign trade. However, there are exceptions to this rule such as free trade agreements and non-reciprocal preferential trade agreements.

More information on the World Trade Organization on the Multilateral Trading System is available on the WTO web site:

Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP)

Sri Lanka is currently participating in the Third Round of Negotiations under the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries (GSTP) - The GSTP Agreement was established in 1988 as a framework for the exchange of trade preferences among developing countries in order to promote intra-developing-country trade and was envisaged as a dynamic instrument of economic cooperation, proceeding with step-by-step negotiations in successive stages. Following a comprehensive review of the operations of the Agreement since its entry into force in 1989, the Committee of Participants launched the Third Round in 2004.

The Third Round of Negotiations was concluded in Brazil in 2010 with eight Participants of the original 22 Participants to the Round signing the final Protocol. Sri Lanka has not yet signed the Protocol, pending further negotiations on Rules of Origin.

The idea of cooperation through South-South trade received its first political expression at the 1976 ministerial meeting of the Group of 77 (G77) in Mexico City and was further developed at G77 ministerial meetings in Arusha (1979) and Caracas (1981)

In 1982, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Group of 77 in New York defined the basic components of the Agreement and established a framework for negotiations. In 1984, the G77 began preparatory work in Geneva on various aspects of a framework agreement. In 1985, the New Delhi ministerial meeting provided further impetus to the process of negotiations in Geneva. The ministerial meeting in Brasilia in 1986 established the provisional framework of the Agreement and launched the first round of negotiations on preferential trade concessions. In 1988, the text of the Agreement was adopted and the first round of negotiations concluded in Belgrade.