Nov 04, 2016

Sri Lanka seeks WTO's special & differential treatments

Sri Lanka seeks such flexibilities and Special & Differential Treatments during the process of WTO future negotiations. With regard to tariffs, Sri Lanka’s bound commitments made to WTO are relatively at a lower level in both agriculture and non-agriculture products. With regard to applied rate, currently Sri Lanka maintains three bands tariffs at zero, 15% and 30%.  Over 56% of tariff lines are at zero duty level.

This was disclosed by Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen on 02 November in Geneva. Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the fourth review of the trade policies and practices of Sri Lanka on 2 November in Geneva. The Review taking place from 01 November to 03rd, takes place on the basis of reports by WTO Secretariat and by the Government of Sri Lanka.     

Out of the remaining tariff lines, a majority is confined to lower bracket of tariff. Despite Sri Lanka’s commitments to trade liberalization, a lower tariff structure has forced formidable challenges to the government in particular to the revenue sources. The global market slowdown and the fluctuation on the global demand for the commodities that Sri Lanka trades with have increased the country’s vulnerability to external pressures, he added.

Sri Lanka owes its global debtors $65 Bn while the lower tariffs have brought in formidable challenges -and any tariff adjustments are only a temporary measure. Sri Lanka also seeks flexibilities as well as Special and Differential Treatments during future WTO negotiations.

“Despite Sri Lanka’s commitments to trade liberalization, a lower tariff structure has forced formidable challenges to the government in particular to the revenue sources” he said.

In his lengthy submission to the Review session, Minister Bathiudeen elaborated on Sri Lanka’s achievements in various development indicators and stressed the country’s commitment to WTO’s trade measures. . Sri Lanka, being a country open for trade, believes that minimizing trade barriers and reducing transaction cost of trade are effective and efficient ways for future development. Sri Lanka has placed great importance on the adoption of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.  It  has ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement and our Instrument of Acceptance has been submitted to the Director General of WTO on 31st May 2016. 

The 02 November Policy Review session was presided by the Chairperson of the Trade Policy Review Body Ms Irene B.K. Young.

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