US-Sri Lanka bilateral trade will reach a significant milestone today when the work plan under the US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) is signed and ratified by both countries.
“I am here to complete the work plan under the US-Sri Lanka Joint Action Plan finalised on 28 April in Washington, DC,” said visiting Assistant US Trade Representative for South Asia, Michael J. Delaney, said last afternoon in Colombo.
Delaney was meeting the Sri Lankan Government’s Industry and Commerce team, headed by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiueen, at his ministry’s offices. Minister Bathiudeen was joined by the Ministry’s Secretary T.M.K.B. Thennakoon, Bathiudeen’s Senior Advisor Himali JInadasa, Director General of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne and other top ministry officials while Delaney was joined by delegates from the US as well as US Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Maldives Atul Keshap.
On 28 April 2016 in Washington, the 12th US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) Council meeting was co-chaired by United States Trade Representative Michael Froman and Sri Lanka Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade Malik Samarawickrama.
With a goal of significantly increasing two-way trade and investment between the United States and Sri Lanka, the two governments adopted a US-Sri Lanka Joint Action Plan to Boost Trade and Investment. The Inter-Sessional meeting of the 12th TIFA Joint Council Meeting will be held in Colombo today in the presence of the visiting US trade representative.
“We are finalising the work plan tomorrow in Colombo and it will go into effect immediately. As for bilateral trade between both countries, Sri Lanka can do much more. Tomorrow’s work plan will help to address chief impediments to better trade performance between the US and Sri Lanka. We believe that once this work plan is implemented our trade will increase substantially. With the new Government’s reform focus, we have a great opportunity,” he said yesterday.
“The US tries to help and show support to Sri Lanka’s process of meaningful reconciliation as well. Sri Lankan apparel has shown a strong performance but we believe your apparel sector has much more unrealised potential and can grow way further.”
Minister Bathiudeen, while thanking the US for its ongoing support of Sri Lanka, stated: “I remember that even when I started as the Minister of Industry and Commerce way back in 2010, you continuously visited and met us and encouraged us,” said Minister Bathiudeen.
“Your engagement has been a great strength to me, my ministry and Sri Lanka in general. Our ministry will continue to support ongoing US-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA) efforts and readily help our International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrama’s TIFA work. Tomorrow’s initiative will no doubt help boost our present bilateral trade and investment volumes.”
In 2015, total bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $ 3.3 billion. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the US continues to be the largest single export market for Sri Lanka, having absorbed 23% of Sri Lanka’s total exports. US-Sri Lanka bilateral trade jumped 33% in the five-year period from 2011.