Office of the United States Trade Representative


Deputy USTR Shiner to Visit Sri Lanka Oct. 14-15
Contact: Richard Mills/Ricardo Reyes | (202) 395-3230 10/10/2003

WASHINGTON - Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Josette Sheeran Shiner will travel to Sri Lanka
on October 14-15 to explore ways to strengthen and expand bilateral trade ties. Ambassador Shiner will discuss opportunities and challenges with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, Commerce Minister Ravi Karunanayake and members of the Sri Lankan private sector.

"Sri Lanka has taken bold steps to end its ethnic conflict, to open its economy, and to advance multilateral trade liberalization through the World Trade Organization," Shiner said. "I look forward to meeting with Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Minister Karunanayake and to hearing directly from Sri Lankans their views on how to expand and diversify trade between Sri Lanka and the United States, boost economic growth and development, and forge a lasting peace in their country."

Talks between Ambassador Shiner and senior Sri Lankan officials will take place under the U.S.-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Among other things, the TIFA establishes a special forum to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues. The TIFA was signed in July 2002 on the occasion of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe's visit to the United States. Two previous TIFA meetings were held in Washington and Colombo.

Ambassador Shiner will also discuss with her Sri Lankan counterparts their interest in a possible free trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Sri Lanka. During the TIFA session, the United States will discuss questions about existing U.S. FTAs, which have set high standards for comprehensive agreements.

"We've enjoyed a productive TIFA with Sri Lanka and we've resolved several issues. Sri Lanka has indicated its interest in deepening our trade relationship," Ambassador Shiner said. "One of the purposes of my visit is to listen and to learn from Sri Lankans about their goals and expectations for trade and how it fits with their economic reform and growth plans."

The United States is Sri Lanka's largest single export market, accounting for roughly 40 percent of the country's overseas sales. The United States has long worked closely with Sri Lanka to promote economic growth, opportunity and development across the island nation, and strongly supported Norway's efforts to facilitate peace talks in Sri Lanka.

Ambassador Ashley Wills, the Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for South Asia and former U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka, and Mr. David Spooner, the U.S. Special Textile Negotiator, will accompany Ambassador Shiner during her visit.


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