Are we out of touch with reality?

Implementing Singapore-Sri Lanka FTA

by Gomi Senadhira

News can be confusing. That happened when I read the headline, “President tells Singapore PM that SL will prioritise implementing FTA” (The Island 09 Sept. 2022). I thought the news item was not accurate. So, I checked the Presidential Secretariat website. It confirmed the validity of this news item. President Ranil Wickremesinghe had informed Singapore PM “that his priority was to bring into effect the Free Trade Agreement with Singapore.” I don’t know what Singaporean PM Lee Hsien Loong thought when the Sri Lankan President pledged to prioritise the implementation of the FTA with Singapore, during their meeting in Tokyo. The Enterprise Singapore website lists the Sri Lanka – Singapore Free Trade Agreement (SLSFTA) as one of the FTAs in operation. That is since it entered into force on the 1st of May 2018. So, one may wonder why implementing an agreement that was implemented four years earlier should be a priority for anybody? But then they were in Tokyo for the funeral of slain Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Funerals are not the most appropriate venues for discussions of this nature. The leaders don’t go to funerals prepared for such meetings. Hence, I didn’t think much of it.

But then a few days ago, the President reiterated his position. A media release from the Presidential Secretariat said: “President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed the relevant officials to implement the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) immediately. The President issued these instructions during the discussion held at the Presidential Secretariat this morning (16 October) on the implementation of the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. The existing problems in this regard were discussed at length and the President highlighted the need to provide quick solutions to all the existing problems. …read more

Source:: The Island