The DoC also functions as the focal point in Sri Lanka for joint commissions on trade and economic co-operation which have been established under trade agreements. These joint commissions provide a mechanism for inter-governmental cooperation in trade relations which is extremely beneficial for the development and expansion of Sri Lanka’s exports to the countries concerned. The DoC is responsible for bilateral trade negotiations under these joint commissions from the stage of their formulation, and with respect to coordination of their work and implementation of their decisions.

The scope of these Joint Commissions is comprehensive ranging from trade, banking, and shipping to co-operation in education, science and employment. Activities undertaken in this context apart from contributing to the promotion of Sri Lanka’s trade are intended to foster mutual understanding and co-operation between participating countries and their respective public and private sector agencies.

The Department of Commerce is responsible for co-ordination and conduct of the following Joint Commissions/Committees, which are held at ministerial level.

Sri Lanka - Australia

The Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement (TIFA) between Sri Lanka and Australia was signed in November 2017, with the perspective of enhancing and facilitating bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries. The Sri Lanka-Australia Joint Commission (JC) on Trade and Investment was established under the arrangement and 01st session of the JC was held in Australia in April 2018 and the 2nd Session of the JC was held in September 2019 in Sri Lanka.

The interim meeting of the JC was held on 17th November 2021 virtually which was organized by the Department of Commerce together with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia and the Australian High Commission in Sri Lanka in order to review and endorse the action plan for the period of 2020-2021. The action plan comprises main for categories of activities relevant to the government-to-government engagements, development partnerships, market access and commercial interests. Both countries reviewed the new proposals and set the expected dates for the next follow up meetings and for the 3rd session of the JC which is be expected to be held in Australia in 2022.  

It was proposed to hold the 3rd session of the JC parallel to the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and Australia. Review meetings were also held in December 2021 and March 2022, as agreed at the interim meeting to review the action plan.

Sri Lanka - Bangladesh

The Sri Lanka - Bangladesh Joint Commission (JC) was formed in 1979 with the objective of further enhancing trade, culture, education and social relations between the two countries.

The 5th Session of the JC between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh was held in Colombo on 9th November 2016.
The following MoUs which were proposed at the 5th JC were signed during the visit of H.E. the President to Bangladesh in 2017:

  • MoU between Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Board of Investment of Sri Lanka for cooperation on investment matters
  • MoU between Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institution (BSTI) and Sri Lanka Standards Institution (SLSI)
  • MoU on cooperation in the fields of Information and Communication Technology
  • MoU between Ceylon Shipping Corporation (CSC) and Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC)
  • MoU on collaboration between Chittagong BGMEA Institute of Fashion and Technology (CBIFT) and Sri Lanka Institute for Apparel and Textiles (SLITA)
  • MoU on Cooperation in Agriculture

Sri Lanka - Belarus

Sri Lanka and Belarus signed bilateral agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation in 2014. The first session of the Belarus – Sri Lanka Joint Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation (JEC ) was held 9th - 10th July 2014 in Colombo.

The 2nd Session of the JEC was held on 19th August 2016 in Minsk, Republic of Belarus. During the discussion both parties discussed the directions of further development of economic projects and trade ties between the countries and both sides agreed at the meeting to obtain the necessary approval to sign the Agreement on Science Cooperation between the two countries to strengthen the bilateral relations in the sphere of science and technology.

Sri Lanka - Bulgaria

The Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Bulgaria, signed in Sofia on 26th December 1975 and that was terminated by the Bulgarian side with effect from 01st of January 2007 in accordance with the Article 10 (Termination) of the said Agreement as a result of their accession to the European Union.  

In 2012, Sri Lanka officially agreed on denouncing the above agreement. Thereafter, it was proposed sign an agreement on Economic Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Bulgaria at the earliest.

Sri Lanka - China

The period beginning 1952 marked a new chapter in trade relations between the two countries with the signing of a Trade Agreement and a Five-year Trade Agreement relating to rubber and rice pact in 1952. Until 1982, trade and payment Agreements were negotiated every 5 years, which provided the framework under which trade between the two countries was conducted. Annual protocols signed under these Agreements provided for the barter of rice and rubber. Two sets of clearing accounts were maintained with their respective Central Banks, in order to channel barter transactions.

The Sri Lanka-China Joint Committee for Economic and Trade Cooperation (JETC) has been formed in 1991 following amalgamation of two agreements namely Trade & Payment Agreement and Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation which were signed in 1982 between the two countries. The 1st session of the JETC which was held in March 1992 in Colombo, had been led by the Ministry of Finance and the Second Session of the Joint Commission was held in Beijing in March 1996. The 5th Session of the Sri Lanka – China JETC was held on 24 April 2013 in Colombo and a number of key decisions were taken between the two countries at this Session including Sri Lanka’s suggestion of exploring the possibility of entering into a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between the two countries as a mechanism to strengthen bilateral trade and commercial relations. The 6th Session of the JETC was held on 07th June 2014 in Beijing.  During the session, both sides have agreed to launch the FTA negotiations during the visit of H.E the President of China to Colombo in September 2014.

The 7th Session of the China Sri Lanka JETC was held virtually on 24th September 2021. The Sri Lanka delegation was led by Secretary, Ministry of Trade and the Chinese delegation was led by Vice Minister, Ministry of Commerce of China. The Session was a vital step towards further strengthening the bilateral trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. The both sides highlighted the areas of cooperation and the importance of further strengthen trade, investment and tourism relations between the two countries which have been strengthening over the years and the significance of China’s Belt and Road Initiative in developing strategic cooperation. Follow up meetings to review the progress of the matters arising of the 7th JETC were also held on 15th December 2021, and 31st March, 2022.

Sri Lanka - Egypt

Sri Lanka and Egypt signed an Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement on 29th March 1987 which paved the way for setting up of a Joint Committee to address boarder and Specific Trade issues. During the period of 16th to 19th July 1990, the first Session of the Joint Committee meeting was held in Sri Lanka. Subsequently, both governments agreed to upgrade the Joint Committee to a Joint Commission to be co-chaired by the Trade Ministers of the two countries. The 1st session of the new JC meeting on Trade and Economic Cooperation was held in Cairo, during the period of 23rd to 28th January 1996 at Ministerial level. The 2nd Session of the JC also held in Cairo, during 3rd to 4th November 2002. During the second session of the JC both parties discussed possibility of signing an FTA between two countries , private sector cooperation in promoting trade and economic cooperation, bilateral cooperation in the sectors of investments, maritime, phytosanitary requirements and aviation.

Even though both parties agreed to sign an FTA, it appears that the Egyptian side prefers a PTA to an FTA, which would include preferential market access for Sri Lankan tea etc. and market access for Egyptian fruits.  Since certain fruit varieties of Egypt are banned in Sri Lanka in terms of quarantine regulations,  Sri Lanka side requested the list of Egyptian fruits with the HS Codes, which are expected to request preferential access under the proposed PTA.

Sri Lanka - EU

Sri Lanka- EU Working Group on Trade and Economic Relations Co-operation (WGTEC) was established under the EU- Sri Lanka Joint Commission which was established in 1973.

As its annual Session, the WGTEC was held on 26th January 2022, via virtual mode. The two side presented updates and discussed matters in relation to overview of trade policy developments, EU GSP and GSP+ matters, investment environment in Sri Lanka, matters under WTO and the Multilateral/ Plurilateral Agenda, bilateral market access issues and trade related assistance.

Furthermore, Sri Lanka side followed- up with the EU side on Sri Lanka’s proposal for the cross regional cumulation of rules of origin for certain textile products with Indonesia and updated the EU side on the Sri Lanka’s intended request from the EU to seek the extended duty concessions for the apparel made from the fabrics originated in UK, based on the EU- UK FTA. The proposal in this regard is already submitted to the EU side via diplomatic channels.

Sri Lanka - Iraq

The Trade Agreement signed between Sri Lanka and Iraq in 1975 provides for a Joint Committee on Economic and Technical Co-operation and its first Session was held in Colombo in March 1979. In the context of the JC, the two sides have agreed to promote cooperation across a wide range of areas including, Security, Trade and Industry, Tourism, Bilateral Air Links, Investments, Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Education, Technical cooperation as well as Social and Cultural relations.
The Federation of Chamber of Commerce of Iraq signed two Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka (NCCSL), in order to enhance and develop the trade and economic relationships between the Chambers of Commerce of the two countries.
8th session, the latest, was held on 24-25 February 2014 in Baghdad. Sri Lanka submitted draft texts on several MOUs for consideration during this session. Those MOUs included MOU on bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection, MOU on Co-operation in Agriculture and allied sectors, MOU on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, MOU on Cooperation between the two Ministries of Justice. During the session, views were exchanged on Trade, Finance, Banking, Taxation, Investment, Agriculture, Culture, Transportation, Labour market and Tourism.

Sri Lanka - Iran

The Agreement of establishment of the Iran –Sri Lanka Joint Commission (JC) was signed in 1987. The JC was formed with the objective of further enhancing trade, culture, education and social relations between the two countries. The 11th Meeting of the JC between Sri Lanka and Iran was held in Colombo from 24th – 25th February 2016. During the meeting discussion focused on enhancing  cooperation in the areas of trade, economic and cultural relations.

Follow up Committee Meeting on the 11th Session of JC was held on 7th-8th February 2018 to discuss on areas of cooperation on; Banking, Financial matters, Trade, Oil, Tea, and Agriculture, Insurance, Economic & Customs cooperation and the Standards, Transportation, Science & Technology, Health, Culture & Training Programmes

Background work of following Five MoU’s signed during H.E. the President’s visit was done in the follow-up committee meeting.

  • MoU on combating Illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs  
  • MoU on Cinema and Television
  • MoU on Standardization, Metrology, Training
  • MoU on Programme of Cultural, Scientific and Technical Cooperation
  • MoU on Health, Medical Science, Pharmaceutical and Medical Equipment

Sri Lanka - Hungary

The 01st Session of the Sri Lanka- Hungarian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation was held on 23- 24 April, 2019 in Budapest. The discussions were focused on enhancing trade and economic cooperation between the two countries through joint trade promotional programmes, cooperation on Ties Aid Credit programme of Hungary, Agriculture, Water Management, Education, Science & Technology and Disaster Management as well as finalizing the Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between the two countries.

Sri Lanka - Indonesia

Sri Lanka has entered into a Bilateral Agreement with Indonesia for Economic and Technical Co-operation (ETC) in June 1996.  Under the ETC, a MoU on the establishment of a Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC) between Sri Lanka and Indonesia was signed on 01st October 2007 and the 01st Meeting of the JCBC was held in Colombo on 26th January 2012.

At the 02nd Meeting of the JCBC held in Jakarta on 13th October 2014, it was agreed to establish a Working Group on Trade and Investment (WGTI) between the two countries under the JCBC. After several rounds of discussions, both parties are in agreement of the draft text of the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the WGTI. The Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security and the Department of Commerce (DOC) from the Sri Lanka side, are in the process of making arrangements to sign the ToR of the WGTI at the earliest.

Sri Lanka - Jordan

Sri Lanka and Jordan signed a new bilateral Trade and Economic cooperation Agreement on 18th  May 2007, during the visit of Hon. Minister of Export Development and International Trade to Jordan, replacing the Trade Agreement which was concluded in 1965.

Sri Lanka - Kenya

The Joint Trade Committee (JTC) between Sri Lanka and Kenya was constituted through a MOU on Bilateral Trade between Sri Lanka and Kenya signed during the visit of H.E. the President to Kenya in 2010, with the objective of expanding trade between the two countries. In this context, the first meeting of the JTC between Sri Lanka and Kenya was held on 11th November 2014 in Colombo. During this meeting two sides discussed a wide range of areas for cooperation.

During the meeting it was suggested to strengthen bilateral cooperation on customs matters, export promotion, cooperation among trade chambers of the two countries, cooperation in the tea/ coconut/ livestock/ leather products sectors and cooperation in Tourism sector.

Sri Lanka - Kuwait

The bilateral Agreement on Trade between Sri Lanka and Kuwait was signed on 26th April 1994. The First Session of the Joint Committee Meeting was held in Colombo in 10-12 March, 1997 and the 2nd Session was held in Kuwait from 09-11 October 2018.

During the Second Session, both sides reached several important conclusions with regard to enhancing bilateral ties, especially in the areas of trade and investment. Accordingly, Sri Lanka will look into the possibility of organizing export promotional events and participating in selected international trade shows in Kuwait. It was also decided to carryout awareness programs for potential Kuwaiti investors. In order to enhance the relations between the business community of both countries, The National Chamber     of Commerce (NCC) and Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) agreed to enter into an MOU. The draft MOU in this regard has already been submitted to the Kuwaiti side.

Sri Lanka - Malaysia

The 01st meeting of the Sri Lanka –Malaysia Joint Commission on Economic, Scientific and Technical cooperation was held in Colombo in June 2006. The Second Session of the Joint Commission was held in Malaysia in 21st – 22nd October 2013 in Kuala Lumpur. During this session both sides agreed to establish a Joint Working Group on Trade to give a better focus in enhancing mutual beneficial bilateral trade.

Draft modalities for the Proposed Joint Working Group on Trade has been prepared by the Sri Lankan side and transmitted to the Malaysian side. Further both sides agreed in principle to explore the future possibility of an FTA.

Sri Lanka - Pakistan

The Joint Economic Commission (JC) between the two countries was established in 1974. The 12th Session was held virtual mode on 3rd February 2021, chaired by the Secretary’s level. The discussions were held with the objective of further strengthening trade relations and resolving long standing trade and investment related issues faced by the companies of both the countries. Several positive outcomes transpired during the session and both sides agreed that further discussions at technical level be held during the Working Group meeting on Trade.

Under this JC mechanism, it has established a Joint Working Group Meeting on Trade, Investment and Auto Sector (JWG) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The 2nd JWG was held virtually on the 21st May 2021. The 3rd JWG to be held once the Pakistani side confirms the dates. Also, under the JC, a Joint Working Group Meeting on Customs Cooperation between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was set up and its 2nd Meeting organized by the Customs Authorities of the two countries to discuss customs related matters of mutual benefit, was held on 04th August 2021 at virtual mode. The Department of Commerce also participated at this discussion.

Sri Lanka - Quatar

Agreement on Economic, Commercial & Technical Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Qatar was signed on 15th January 2012 in Colombo. 1st  Session of the JC was held on 14-15 September 2014.

The 2nd Session in Colombo on the 30th and 31st October 2017 and both parties took note of the fact that a successful visit by H.E Maithripala Sirisena, the President of Sri Lanka to Qatar was concluded from 25th-26th of October 2017.  Stemming from this visit, both sides observed, inter-alia, and four specific areas, namely LNG, Aviation, Tourism Development, and Agriculture to enhance cooperation.

The experts of the two Sides discussed a number of areas for possible cooperation between Sri Lanka and Qatar. They included trade, investment, tourism and several other fields such as power & energy, transport and infrastructure, agriculture and environment, labour, education, sports & culture etc.

Sri Lanka - Romania

The 8th Session of the Sri Lanka - Romania Joint Committee for Economic Co-operation was held in Colombo in December 1991. At this meeting, a draft Agreement on Trade, Economic & Technical Co-operation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the Government of Romania was negotiated. The new draft Agreement incorporated the basic objectives of both the Trade Agreement of 1975 and the economic & Technical Co-operation Agreement of 1968. The Ministries of Foreign Affairs & Finance have given their concurrence to the new draft for which Cabinet Approval has already been obtained. The Agreement is anticipated to be signed at the forthcoming Joint Committee for Trade and Economic Co-operation. This Agreement would be signed by the respective Ministers on a date mutually agreed by Romania and Sri Lanka in Bucharest.

Sri Lanka - Russia

The Agreement on establishment of the Inter- Government Commission (IGC) was respectively signed by Russia and Sri Lanka on 23rd April 2015 and on 23rd June 2015, via diplomatic channels. Accordingly, the agreement on IGC came into force with effect from 23rd June 2015.

The 1st session of the IGC was held from 10th  to 12th February 2016 in Moscow and the 2nd  Session was held in in Colombo from 24th  to 26th  October 2017. As a preparatory meeting to the 3rd  IGC Session, a meeting between Co- Chairs of IGC, as proposed by the Russian Federation and it was then held on 15th  June 2021 via virtual mode. At this Co- Chairs’ meeting both the sides exchanged the proposals to be taken up at the forthcoming 3rd IGC,  which covers areas of market access issues;  bilateral trade and investment cooperation; aviation cooperation; customs cooperation; agriculture cooperation; power & energy sector cooperation; industry cooperation; IT & space cooperation and R&D. The 3rd IGC is expected to be held either in August or September of 2022, after it was postponed several times. from the month of February, and then April, and to mid of 2022 due to various reasons.

Sri Lanka - South Korea

The Agreement on Economic Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Republic of Korea was formed in November 2017, as per a proposal of the Government of Sri Lanka with the objective of enhancing the economic cooperation between the two countries.

The First meeting of was held on 28th June 2018 in Colombo. Matters relating to economic development including trade, investment, tourism, infrastructure development, energy, ports, maritime & fisheries were discussed at the meeting.

Sri Lanka - Thailand

The 4th Session of the Joint Commission at Foreign Minister level to be hosted by the Thai Side. The 3rd Session was held in Colombo in 2013. Under the Joint Committee, the 4th Meeting of the Sub-Committee on Trade Related Matters between Sri Lanka and Thailand held on 06th May 2022. Discussion of the Joint Action Plan (JAP) was the major item of the agenda.

Referring to the official visit of Prime Minister of Thailand, General Prayut Chan-o-cha, to Sri Lanka on 12 -13 July 2018, Thailand and Sri Lanka signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Strategic Economic Partnership. To effectively implement strategic economic partnership between both sides, the Participants decided to develop a “Joint Action Plan”, taking into account evolving business and economic environment and the Participants’ economic policies and priorities, covering 10 sectors (Investment, Infrastructure, Development of Agro Industry, Fisheries, Gem and Jewellery, Tourism, SMEs, Financial Cooperation, Packaging Industry and IT Sector Development), to achieve it by 2020, which was extended to 31st December 2022, due to Covid-19.

Sri Lanka - Turkiye

Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation between Sri Lanka and Turkiye entered into force effective from 27th November 2007 and the 01st Session of the Turkiye– Sri Lanka Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation (JCETC) was taken place in Ankara, Turkiye, 11–12 November,2016.  

The 02nd Session of the JCETC was held on 10th June 2021 via virtual mode. The session focused on enhancement of bilateral trade, economic and technical cooperation in a mutually beneficial and the sustainable manner. The areas discussed at the JCETC include promotion of investments, cooperation in the fields of Contracting and Engineering Consultancy Services, Education, Issues of Respective Communities Overseas, Science, Technology and Metrology, Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs), Standardization, Civil Aviation, Maritime Transportation, Health, Culture and Tourism, Energy, Agriculture, Water Safety and Water Quality, etc:

The follow- ups are being done with relevant Sri Lankan institutions as well as Turkiyesh authorities on the progress of the matters discussed at the session. The 03rd Session of the JCETC will be held at a date agreed by the both sides.

Sri Lanka - UAE

The Sri Lanka- UAE Joint Committee for Trade and Economic Cooperation (JCTEC) was signed in 2014 and its 01st Session was held in Abu Dhabi on 26 & 27 January 2014.

Mutually important matters on the Treaty on Mutual Legal assistance in criminal matters, Treaty on Extradition and justice, MOU on the Establishment of Business Council between Sri Lanka and the UAE, Labor Empowerment Agreement and a MOU on Tourism promotion etc, were key matters discussed at the 1st Session.

Sri Lanka - USA

The Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which was signed between the USA and Sri Lanka in 2002, provides a broad institutional arrangement for promoting closer trade and economic co-operation between the two countries. It facilitates regular contacts among high level trade officials, where the respective authorities could identify and address any issues, which hamper trade and investment flows between two countries.

The 13th Join Council Meeting (JCM) under the 13th TIFA, took place on 19th and 20th June, 2019 in Colombo with the presence of a team of senior officials from the United States and a wide cross-section of Sri Lankan officials and private sector stakeholders. The then MODSIT inaugurated the meeting, while technical level session was co-chaired by the Director General of Commerce of Sri Lanka and the Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia.

The two delegations under 13th TIFA engaged in a closer dialogue, covering a range of subject matters that are of mutual interest. The discussions, inter-alia, focused on areas such as market access, trade and investment policy reforms of Sri Lanka, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, development and innovation in the digital economy, government procurement, environment and trade capacity building. An inter-sessional meeting has been proposed by the US side before the 14th TIFA on a mutually convenient date in 2022.

Sri Lanka - Vietnam

The 01st Session of Sub Committee on Trade (SCT) between Vietnam and Sri Lanka was held on 26th March 2015 in Colombo. The 02nd Meeting of the SCT between Sri Lanka and Viet Nam, was held in Ha Noi, Viet Nam in October 2019.  Discussions were held on several areas for cooperation including mutual assistance in customs, agricultural sector, cooperation in fisheries sector, cooperation in the field of textile and garment and manufacturing industrial machineries, Aviation Cooperation and Investment Promotion and Protection.

The two sides discussed specific measures that could be taken to remove difficulties and obstacles in trade, investment and business cooperation. Sri Lanka and Viet Nam agreed to expand cooperation in a number of other areas such as health and tourism, and promote direct flights between the two countries to support trade and tourism development.

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