Trade Minister to meet US Business Community at the US Chamber of Commerce

MOU to be signed for Exchange of Scholars, Research & Extension Programme in the Area of Textile Technology

Hon. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, Minister of Trade, Commerce and Consumer Affairs, will be visiting Washington D.C. leading a delegation of Senior Government Officials to attend the Fourth Joint Council Meeting under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which will be held on 26th October, 2004 in Washington D.C. The Joint Council meeting will discuss important bilateral and multilateral issues relating to Sri Lanka and the U.S. including, Sri Lanka’s economic and investment polices, Intellectual Property Rights Law, Millennium Challenge Account, WTO – Doha Development Agenda, bilateral trade relations and proposed FTA between the U.S. and Sri Lanka. The U.S. delegation to the TIFA Meeting will be led by Ambassador Josette Shiner, Deputy USTR and will comprise representatives of Department of Commerce, Department of State, Department of Agriculture, Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) etc.

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between the U.S. and Sri Lanka, signed in July 2002, provides a cabinet level legal and institutional framework for a permanent trade policy dialogue to broaden and deepen bilateral trade and economic relations. This is the fourth occasion the U.S.-Sri Lanka Joint Council meets two years since the Agreement was signed. This is testimony to the importance both countries attach to the deepening and broadening of the bilateral trade and economic relationship.

Three Joint Council Meetings held so far, have resulted in resolving bilateral commercial issues and building confidence between the two countries. The last meeting was held in October 2003 in Colombo. Both countries have agreed to use TIFA process as a vehicle to engage in further trade policy dialogue between the two countries with a view to expediting the bilateral trade agenda.

The October 26th meeting is the first Joint Council Meeting since the new Government came into office in Sri Lanka in April 2004. The date for the Fourth Joint Council Meeting was agreed at bilateral discussions Minister Fernandopulle had with USTR Zoellick in Washington D.C. in June 2004. The Hon. Minister will meet Ambassador Robert B. Zoellick, USTR prior to the TIFA meeting to review a broad range of bilateral and multilateral trade issues that will be taken up at Joint Council Meeting and explore ways to strengthen and expand bilateral trade ties.

Minister Fernandopulle will address US Corporate Executives at a Luncheon Meeting on 26 October, 2004 at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington D.C. to present the emerging trade and investment opportunities in Sri Lanka.

Arrangements have been made to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Textile Training & Services Centre (TT&SC) and Clothing Industry Training Institute (CITI) of Sri Lanka and the North Carolina State University College of Textiles to exchange scholars, faculty, research and extension programmes in the area of textile technology. North Carolina State University Textile College is a leading academic and research institutions for textile technology in the world. This is a follow up to the Sri Lanka business promotion delegation’s visit to North Carolina in September, 2004.

Minister Fernandopulle will meet with US exporters of poultry products, wheat and wheat flour to explore the possibility of importing these products with a view to ensuring stable supply and competitive prices of these products to the Sri Lankan consumers.

Sri Lanka, which is a trade dependent country with its total external trade accounting for 70 percent of the GDP, is seeking expanded trade relations with the US. A study on the trade related impacts of a Sri Lanka-U.S. FTA conducted by a Washington based research institute, predicts that “the gains in economic welfare to Sri Lanka would be particularly large (3.0 to 3.5 percent of GDP per annum).”

The United States is the largest single export market for Sri Lanka’s exports accounting for 38 per cent of total exports. Over 90 US Companies have invested US$ 500 million in Sri Lanka. The US which has worked closely with Sri Lanka to promote economic growth has selected Sri Lanka as a beneficiary country to receive assistance under the Millennium Challenge Account, a $ 3 billion fund of development assistance. The US as a Co-Chair of the Tokyo Donor Conference has strongly supported ongoing Peace Process in Sri Lanka.

The Hon. Minister of Trade, Commerce & Consumer Affairs will be accompanied by Dr. U. Vidanapathirana, Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Tourism & Investment Promotion, Amb. K.J. Weerasinghe, Director General of Commerce and Mr. Saliya Wickramasuriya, Chairman, BOI during his visit to Washington DC. Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Ambassador to the U.S. and Mr. Saman Udagedara, Minister (Commercial) will join the delegation in Washington DC.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

22 October 2004

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