In an interview with Channel NewsAsia about the agreement, Sri Lankan High Commissioner Nimal Weeraratne said in Singapore that the two governments had found that they could conclude a « modern, comprehensive and higher value free trade agreement » between the two countries. 5 Global edges. Sri Lanka: trade statistics. Available at globaledge.msu.edu/countries/sri-lanka/tradestats. 11 Sri Lanka Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade. Free trade agreement between the Socialist Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka and the Republic of Singapore. Available at modsit.gov.lk/32-uncategorised/115-free-trade-agreement-between-the-democratic-socialist-republic-of-sri-lanka-and-the-republic-of-singapore.html. 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. Market access in Singapore was not a problem for Sri Lanka even before the agreement. Singapore is one of the most open economies in the world: 99% of imported goods are duty-free and few imports are prohibited. Singapore, which will assume the PRESIDENCy of ASEAN in 2018, is expected to support Sri Lanka`s eventual participation in the Comprehensive Regional Economic Partnership (RCEP). RCEP promises to become the world`s largest free trade agreement: the 16 participating countries account for 31% of global GDP, including the ten ASEAN countries, China, India and Japan.
RCEP membership offers Sri Lanka the price of simultaneous access to a huge regional market and dynamic Asian direct investment. Participation in the RCEP is also simpler and less burdensome for Sri Lanka`s limited negotiating capacity than separate negotiations on 16 bilateral free trade agreements. In accordance with the agreement, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre is an institution in which investor-state disputes can be heard. MTI said it is with the aim of promoting Singapore as an arbitration centre. 9, Lianne. `The Gateway to South Asia`: Singapore Businesses Set up shop in Sri Lanka. Available at: www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/the-gateway-to-south-asia-singapore-businesses-set-up-shop-in-9885030#page=88. With a significant geostrategic situation in the Indian Ocean, international trade is a natural priority for Sri Lanka. Over the years, the country has signed a series of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements, the last of which in January 2018, the Sri Lanka-Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA). However, when the SLSFTA began in 2019, the SLSFTA faced a number of challenges and highlighted the pros and cons of these agreements.