U.S. Looks to Boost Trade with Sri Lanka
In a joint statement issued after an April 28 meeting of the U.S.-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Council, the two sides said they had adopted a joint action plan aimed at significantly increasing bilateral trade and investment over five years. Objectives set forth in this plan include the following.
- reforming Sri Lanka’s trade and investment regime to world-class standards
- improving the competitiveness of Sri Lanka’s current exports
- developing new markets, especially those that take advantage of Sri Lanka’s status as a regional services hub
- promoting greater interaction between the U.S. and Sri Lankan business communities
- greater utilization of U.S. tariff preference arrangements
- strengthening worker rights and promoting ethical and environmentally sustainable manufacturing practices, especially in Sri Lanka’s ready-made garment sector
- reforming the educational sector to make it more responsive to the needs of business
- increased mobilization of all sectors of society, especially women, in business and trade
A detailed implementation plan is expected later this year.
According to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, U.S. goods exports to Sri Lanka in 2015 totaled $372 million, up 6.2 percent from 2014, while imports rose 7.9 percent to $2.9 billion. U.S. foreign direct investment in Sri Lanka amounted to $111 million in 2014, 8.8 percent higher than the previous year.
USTR’s most recent trade barrier report cited a number of problematic policies in Sri Lanka, including a de facto ban on sales of agricultural products derived from biotechnology, import substitution policies, high import tariffs and other taxes on a large number of goods, price controls, and import licenses on more than 400 items.