Sunday Observer | 1 March 2020
Poland keen on FTA with Sri Lanka
Poland is keen to enter into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka to boost the current trade volume but before that certain bureaucratic hurdles need to be addressed for both countries to benefit fully from the FTA, said Polish Ambassador to Sri Lanka Adam Burakowski last week.
The ambassador was addressing a seminar on ‘Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Poland’ organised by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka.
“A free trade agreement with Sri Lanka or for that matter with any other country has to be initiated by the European Union (EU) office in Colombo,” the ambassador said.
Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Poland as of 2018 was US$ 156 million and it has been in favour of Sri Lanka.
The export of tea, spices, and garments, among other products from Sri Lanka to Poland grew to $ 106 million while imports such as paper, paper board, steel, machinery, and agricultural and electrical equipment from Poland increased from $ 18 million to $ 30 million in 2017.
“There is ample room for trade volume between Sri Lanka and Poland to increase as both countries have a lot to offer each other.
The embassy will take up the concerns of Sri Lankan exporters and explore ways and means to address them soon,” Burakowski said.
The business sector representatives of Sri Lanka raised concerns about the delay in obtaining a visa to travel to Poland due to the absence of a visa office in Colombo.
The silver lining for both countries was the launch of direct flights from Warsaw to Colombo late last year.
However, the move has not gone down well for local entrepreneurs planning to increase trade and investments in Poland due to the hassle of travelling.
“We hope the Embassy of Poland will consider setting up an office in Colombo to expedite travel,” a gem and jewellery merchant said.
Sri Lanka and Poland established diplomatic ties in 1957 and marked 60 years of diplomatic relations in 2017. Relations between the two countries have remained firm despite not extending into many areas of cooperation.
Both countries have enjoyed excellent relations, which have extended into political, economic and cultural aspects.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland accompanied a business delegation to Sri Lanka in 2015 while a Sri Lankan business delegation visited Poland for bilateral talks in 2018.
“Medicinal items, processed food and poultry and agri-products are some of the areas where both countries could work on increasing trade,” the Polish ambassador said, adding that tourism is a key area which both countries should pursue.
Sri Lanka recorded a little over 13,000 visitors from Poland in 2015 which shows there is ample scope for growth in the sector
Poland’s population comprises around 38 million and it is the 69th largest country and ninth largest in Europe. Sri Lanka has identified Poland as one of the emerging markets in the East European region.
“Scope for trade and investments with Poland, a vibrant economy backed by a strong currency and young population is enormous,” said NCCSL President Asela de Livera.
Poland has a developed market and is a regional power in Central Europe, with the largest stock exchange in the East-Central European zone. It has the sixth largest economy by GDP in the European Union and the 10 largest in Europe.