New policy to negotiate trade deals

Sri Lanka on Thursday announced a new trade policy to negotiate international trade agreements.

The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade headed by Malik Samarawickrema said in a statement that a New Trade Policy (NTP) has been drafted by a committee comprising of trade sector experts in consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, making a remarkable milestone in the history of trade policy making in Sri Lanka.

“Formulation of a NTP was a long-waited task which was demanded by various parties including both public and private stakeholders especially professional associations, chambers, academia, international trading partners etc. Lack of a clear vision and coherent trade policy that provides benchmarks to govern and guide the administration and conduct of international trade has resulted in the development of ad-hoc and often conflicting rules, regulations and certain practices adversely affecting the expansion of trade over the last decade,” the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade said.

The government says it recognized the poor performance of trade over the past several years was a result of inward-orientation, separation from the rest of the world, lack of integration and highly distorted trade regime.

In the backdrop of trade and investment being given the highest priority of the development agenda of the government, the NTP will set a framework to guide trade and FDI-led development in the country.

The NTP will assist in introducing domestic trade reforms and legal and regulatory structure required enhancing competitiveness leading to higher productivity, formulating the broad based fiscal policies which has cascading effects across many sectors and players in the economy, negotiating the international trade agreements, mapping out the product space and prioritizing and boosting investments and exports and drawing up a facilitation mechanism to create a level playing field and adjustments.