Singapore-Sri Lanka sign Free Trade Pact; Digital, tourism firms to benefit

On the eve of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's visit to Sri Lanka, both countries signed a free trade agreement on Tuesday, Jan 23, to open up more market access, especially in the fields of infrastructure and tourism.

The Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) was signed by Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry S.Iswaran and Sri Lankan Minister for Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama as the visiting Singapore PM Lee and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena witnessed the signing ceremony in Colombo.

As of 2017, Singapore and sri Lanka bilateral trade amounted to S$2.7 billion, with Singapore exports to Sri Lanka totalled S$2.5 billion, while Singapore's imports from Sri Lanka reached S$178 million.

Here are some key takeaways from the new agreement:

- Sri Lanka will eliminate trade tariffs worth S$10 million over a period of 15 years on 80 percent of Singapore's exports.

- Singapore companies can bid for projects in the government and state-owned enterprises.

- Singapore companies will get to provide access to cross-border transfers of information by electronic means and data flows, especially in e-commerce and digital services.

- Singapore companies can enter the professional and trade-related services as well as environment, construction and tourism.

- Any disputes will have to be resolved at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre.