Thailand and Sri Lanka on Friday agreed to push talks towards a Free Trade Agreement which, if successful, can increase bilateral trade value to US$1.5 billion (Bt 4.99 billion) by 2020.
Annual trade value in 2017 was $512.74 million (Bt 1.71 billion).
Thailand’s main exports to Sri Lanka include dried fish, woven cloth, sugar, automobile parts and para rubber. Thailand imports jewellery, silver bars, gold, plant products, ready-to-wear clothes, aquatic animals and electrical parts.
The FTA dialogue started last year but the memorandum of understanding on Strategic Economic Partnership signed on Friday between the two countries is expected to add momentum to the efforts.
The MoU was among four papers signed by the two countries during Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s meeting with Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena, who invited the Thai premier to the South Asian country, in Colombo on Thursday.
They also discussed possible maritime connectivity between Colombo and the Thai province of Rayong, connecting the Andaman Sea in the Indian Ocean under the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation transportation master plan.
Other agreements signed on Friday covered the transfer of offenders and cooperation in the enforcement of penal sentences, technological collaboration related to value addition of primary products and cooperation on sustainable community development model.
As Buddhism is prominent in both Thailand and Sri Lanka, both leaders also agreed to promote religious tourism as well as cultural cooperation.