Historic Agreements Strengthen Ties between Sri Lanka and Thailand

  • Gem and Jewellery Collaboration Takes Centre Stage.
  • New Heights in Air Services Agreement.

In Sri Lanka’s pursuit of transforming into a high-income country by 2048 involving trade negotiations with countries like Thailand, the Sri Lanka Thailand Free Trade Agreement (SLTFTA), was signed, during the visit of Thai Prime Minister Hon. Srettha Thavisin and his delegation of business dignitaries today (03) at the Presidential Secretariat.

This move aims to enhance market opportunities, with negotiations covering various aspects such as Trade in Goods, Investment, Customs Procedure, and Intellectual Property Rights.

Minister of Trade, Commerce, and Food Security, Mr. Nalin Fernando, represented Sri Lanka by signing the agreement, while Hon. Phumtham Wechayachai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Commerce, represented Thailand by signing the accord.

Thailand, the 37th exporting destination of Sri Lanka, holds significant economic importance, with a GDP of USD 495 billion in 2022 and is one of the largest outward investors in ASEAN. Thailand has brought over USD 92 Million worth of FDI to Sri Lanka during the period from 2005 to 2022. In 2018, it was anticipated tripling the existing bilateral trade value (USD 550 Mn) to USD 1.5 Billion within four years. One of the main objectives of entering into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Thailand is to enhance market opportunities for Sri Lanka with possible expansion.

The SLTFTA, having undergone extensive negotiations, has received legal clearance and is set to further strengthen economic ties between the two nations.

In a related development, the Governments of Sri Lanka and Thailand signed a new Bilateral Air Services Agreement, providing for liberalized services between the two countries. The agreement, which supersedes the 1950 agreement, reflects the commitment to enhance aviation relations and regulatory frameworks.

On behalf of Sri Lanka, the Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation, Mr. Nimal Siripala de Silva, signed the agreement, while representing Thailand, Mr. Jakkapong Sangmanee, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, signed the document.

Meanwhile, the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute (GJRTI) of Sri Lanka and the Gem and Jewellery Institute of Thailand (GIT) solidified their commitment to enhance bilateral cooperation by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which also took place at the Presidential Secretariat.

Representing Sri Lanka, Mr. B.G.R.W. Gamlath, Director General (Actg) of the Gem and Jewellery Research and Training Institute (GJRTI), and representing Thailand, Mr. Sumed Prasongpongchai, Director of the Gem and Jewellery Institute, signed the Memorandum of Understanding on behalf of the two countries.

The Gem and Jewellery industry, deeply rooted in Sri Lanka’s history, has flourished due to its production of high-quality gems, positioning the country uniquely in the global market. Thailand, currently holding a distinctive position in the international Gem and Jewellery industry, recognizes the importance of collaboration. With the shared goal of developing and promoting the industry in both nations, the MOU focuses on information exchange, scientific and technical research, and training activities.

The agreement stems from the 2018 strategic economic cooperation MOU between the governments of Sri Lanka and Thailand. GJRTI and GIT will collaborate on gem deposit and exploration research, value addition to gemstones, and jewellery manufacturing. The exchange of gem-related rock samples and minerals between the two institutes will be facilitated under the laws and regulations of both countries.

GIT will offer training courses in gemmology, jewellery designing and manufacturing, contributing to the skill development in Sri Lanka. The collaboration aims to increase economic returns from the Gem and Jewellery industry by sharing information on gem materials and deposits.