Ten take aways from Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement of 2018

Singapore economy expands by 1.8 per cent in Quarter 1
Representational picture for Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Reuters

After signing the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA), three Singapore companies sealed deals with Sri Lankan partners on January 24 with the idea to grab opportunities in growing market.

Food Studio1, Ark Holdings2 and HPL Hotels & Resorts3 signed four agreements for new projects across food, aquaculture, hospitality and infrastructure at the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum 2018. Sri Lanka Minister of Development and global trade and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry witnessed the signing of the deals.

With Sri Lanka's strategic location along the East-West shipping route and the new SLSFTA lowering trade barriers, Singapore companies can now leverage Sri Lanka's connectivity to enter markets in South Asia. Singapore Companies can now capture opportunities in Sri Lanka for expanding their potential partners and clients, the two countries have exchanged knowledge on market landscape and latest trends.

As Sri Lankan consumers are growing steadily in terms of purchasing parity and have reached an all-time high of S$69 billion in 2016, Singapore companies can now tap growing opportunities in consumer, infrastructure, tourism and trade. With the rise of consumerism, Singapore SME Food Studio is partnering with Shangri La Mall Colombo and Havelock City Mall to set up food courts in four malls across the country.

Sri Lanka ranks among the top tourist locations globally with S$4.6 billion tourist dollars spent last year. As a key tourist hub, the market has growing needs in tourism infrastructure such as hotels and tourist attractions. Singapore companies' recent infrastructure projects in Sri Lanka include NEXT Story Group's NEXT Hotel in Colombo City Centre and WEC Engineers & Constructors' aviation fuel piping project in Sri Lanka's Bandaranaike International Airport.

"The SLSFTA and Sri Lanka's strong push for foreign investments and economic reforms open up more opportunities for Singapore and Sri Lankan companies to collaborate in sectors such as consumer, infrastructure, tourism and trade," said Tan Soon Kim, Assistant Chief Executive Officer (CEO), and IE Singapore.

"The agreements signed today are the testament to the growth potential Sri Lanka presents to Singapore companies. IE Singapore has been working closely with the Sri Lankan government and private sector to increase Singapore companies' access to the market," he added.

"The Singapore business community fully welcomes and supports the SLSFTA," said S.S. Teo, Mission Leader, SBF Chairman and Managing Director of Pacific International Line.

Some of the successful outcomes of Singapore companies in Sri Lanka are Prima, Sri Lanka's largest flour mill, Shing Kwan Group, and Havelock City.

IE Singapore said it is working with BOI, Export Development Board (EDB) and the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade (MODSIT) to share best practices to help Sri Lanka create a favorable business atmosphere and support the internationalization of Sri Lankan companies.

All of 150 business representatives from two countries' companies attended the Sri Lanka-Singapore Business Forum 2018 to discuss opportunities for deeper Singapore-Sri Lanka collaboration, network and connect with potential partners and clients through business matching sessions.