Data sources: UN Comtrade database, Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority and Board of Investment Sri Lanka – Singapore Tourism Board However, the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade would have implemented a much more robust process with consistent bilateral communications with all stakeholders involved in the SLSFTA. A more structured approach would have given more confidence to stakeholders in the process. We are encouraged by the cabinet`s decision of July 31, 2018 to institutionalize the Trade Negotiations Committee for future trade negotiations. Regular updates before and after the rounds of negotiations, similar to updating the status after the 9th round of ECTA[i] negotiations, should be a top priority of the negotiating committee. These updates should be made in a timely manner, as delayed publications alter their value. 5 Global edges. Sri Lanka: trade statistics. Available at globaledge.msu.edu/countries/sri-lanka/tradestats. MTI explained the main benefits of the agreement and said Sri Lanka would eliminate tariffs on 80% of Singapore`s exports over a 15-year period.
Sri Lanka does not enjoy the Singapore market access advantage, as 99.9% of customs positions were already duty-free prior to the SLSFTA. However, under the WTO[iii], Singapore`s customs regime currently applies to only six duty lines (beer and a few other spirit drinks), but at the multilateral level (WTO obligations), about 30% of Singapore`s tariffs are not subject to a higher (unconsolidated) tariff. Tariffs on goods subject to a ceiling (i.e. related) range from zero to 10%. Singapore will therefore have the flexibility to raise rates for the rest of the world at a later date on these tariff lines. However, given that 99.9% of tariffs were promised to Sri Lanka under the SLSFTA, these caps do not apply to Sri Lanka. It is therefore established that the SLSFTA, by confirming the zero tariff for these products, has brought more predictability to Sri Lankan exporters. The agreement is Sri Lanka`s first “modern and comprehensive” free trade agreement and, according to MTI, “it will position Singapore as an early and supportive partner in Sri Lanka`s economic liberalization plans and development.” Sri Lanka`s trade relations with India marked a historic milestone when the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) was signed on 28 December 1998 as Sri Lanka`s first bilateral free trade agreement. The ISFTA came into force on March 1, 2000. The ISFTA is now fully implemented, with both parties fulfilling their progressive obligations under the Tariff Liberalisation Programme (TLP), as explained below. The ministry said the agreement also contained one of the most liberal rules of origin, which would allow more exports from Singapore to qualify for the lower negotiated tariffs.