Inking FTAs only after adopting trade policy: Bandula

The new government will sign Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with other countries only after the adoption of a national trade policy, International Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardane said yesterday.

He told Daily Mirror that he submitted a Cabinet memorandum seeking approval to appoint a committee to study this matter and
make recommendations to formulate a national trade policy.

“FTAs will be signed only after the national trade policy frame is approved. It is a requirement stipulated by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to be considered by any country in striking a bilateral trade agreement. The policy will apply to the Economic and Technology Cooperation (ETCA) agreement to be signed with India. When signing a bilateral trade agreement, it has to be a win-win situation. The previous government had adopted a trade policy detrimental to the interests of local industries. It appeases foreigners only,” he said.

When asked about the FTA with Singapore, he said the commission, appointed by President Maithripala Sirisena to evaluate it, would submit its full report later. “Once that is done, we will move forward,” he said. (Kelum Bandara)