The Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement (APTA), previously named the Bangkok Agreement, was signed in 1975 as an initiative of ESCAP. The APTA comprises seven Participating States i.e. Bangladesh, China, India, Laos, Mongolia, Republic of Korea and Sri Lanka. It is the first Asia-Pacific preferential trade agreement of the region, and the only trade agreement connecting countries that belong to different sub-regions in the Asia-Pacific.
South Korea is a key market for Sri Lanka under APTA which covers a region of a total population of 2.5 billion, thus providing a vast potential market to increase the level of intra-regional trade flows among participating states.
Sri Lanka's major exports to the Republic of Korea under APTA are natural rubber and rubber-based products, gloves, desiccated coconut, coconut fibre, copra, coconut oil, activated carbon, tea, garments and spices. Sri Lanka’s exports to the member countries of the APTA, which stood at US$ 69.7 million in 2010 has increased to US$ 125.6 million in 2016. Sri Lanka’s exports to Korea under APTA has increased from US$ 6.5 Million in 2010 to US$ 31.7 Million in 2016 which is 46% of Sri Lanka’s total export to Korea.
The 4th round of tariff concessions under APTA (July 2017) has widened the coverage of preferences of total tariff concessions by at least 32 to 34 per cent of the total intra-regional trade under the agreement. In addition, the number of products under preferential tariff concessions increased to 10,677 items from the 4,270 agreed to in the 3rd round.
The 5th session of the APTA ministerial council is to be held in Sri Lanka in 2019.
Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA)
The Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA), which was signed on 28th December 1998 and entered into force with effect from 1st March 2000, provides duty free concessions to a wide range of products traded between the two countries. Accordingly, Sri Lanka has already got duty free access to the vast Indian market under the ISFTA. Thus, the entrepreneurs based in Sri Lanka can export more than 4000 product lines to the Indian market on duty free basis.
Sri Lanka –Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA)
A significant improvement in trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan has been recorded with the implementation of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) w.e.f. 12th June 2005.
Preferential tariffs are also granted for agreed products under regional and bilateral trade agreements namely, the South Asian Preferential Trade Agreement (SAPTA), the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) and the Global System of Trade Preferences (GSTP).
In addition, Sri Lanka enjoys Tariff Concessions under EU-GSP Plus Scheme and other GSP Schemes such as USA, CIS, Japan and Canada.
Sri Lanka and China initiated a joint feasibility study to assess the benefits of an FTA between the two countries in August, 2013. The study was completed by March 2014. The heads of the two countries officially launched FTA negotiations in September 2014. According to the joint feasibility study, the agreement is expected to cover both trade in goods and services.
In addition, Sri Lanka is also negotiating a Free Trade Agreement with Singapore.