Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Liu Yunshan told Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa that China looks forward to establishing a free trade zone with Sri Lanka as soon as possible and they are confident of signing a deal early as negotiations have progressed well over the last six months.
Yunshan praised Sri Lanka’s success in ethnic reconciliation, economic development and improving the livelihood of its citizens in recent years, adding that the partnership “not only serves the interests of both nations, but also helps promote peace, cooperation and development of the whole region.”
Sri Lanka’s exports to China totaled $108 million in 2012 while China’s exports to Sri Lanka were a more impressive $2.6 billion.
But both parties hope the trade deal will open up China’s access to Sri Lankan manufacturers, which would mean a big boost for Sri Lankan exports.
Yunshan also met with Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne agreeing to further promote “bilateral friendship and cooperation” between the two nations.
Sri Lanka looks forward to closer inter-party interactions, media exchanges and practical cooperation in economy, tourism and other sectors with the Chinese side, the president said.