China looking to sign FTA with Sri Lanka

Times of India | Sep 11, 2013

China looking to sign FTA with Sri Lanka

Saibal Dasgupta, TNN

BEIJING: China is keen to sign a free trade agreement with Sri Lanka. This was conveyed to Sri Lankan leaders including prime minister DM Jayaratne on Tuesday by senior Communist leader Liu Yunshan during his ongoing visit to Colombo, according to the official news agency Xinhua.

The new move is significant for India because Liu thanked the leadership in Colombo for supporting "issues involving China’s core interests," as Xinhua described it. China includes its border claims, Tibet and Taiwan issues among its "core interests". However, there is no sign that China-India relationship was discussed during Liu’s visit.

Reporting from Colombo, Xinhua quoted Liu telling Sri Lankan Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa that China looked forward to the establishment of a China-Sri Lanka free trade zone as soon as possible.

Rajapaksa responded saying his country is confident of an early signing of a free trade deal with China given the positive progress in the negotiations over the past six months.

Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China, praised the "high level of mutual political trust" between the two countries.

Furthering China-Sri Lanka friendship "not only serves the interests of both nations, but also helps promote peace, cooperation and development of the whole region," Liu said.

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source: Times of India