Washington, D.C. -- The seventh U.S.-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting was held in Colombo, Sri Lanka on October 15. The U.S. delegation was led by Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia Michael Delaney. Gamini Lakshman (G.L.) Peiris, Minister for Export Development and International Trade, led the Sri Lankan delegation.
"Our purpose here today is to foster economic development and generate jobs, particularly in the war-affected areas of Sri Lanka," Michael Delaney said. "Today's meetings served to identify areas of common interest and deepen our commitment to expanded bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Sri Lanka. We also identified new areas of cooperation between our two countries."
"The seventh round of TIFA talks takes place at a historic juncture in the Sri Lankan economy. It is heartening to note that the TIFA process has already begun to expand beyond its traditional boundaries," said Trade Minister Peiris. "I am particularly pleased to note that the TIFA has become an effective tool in attracting private sector participation in Sri Lanka's post-conflict development efforts and the government of Sri Lanka deeply appreciates the most valuable cooperation the United States continue to extend in this direction. As we move forward, the TIFA is certain to play an increasingly important role in further advancing the long standing relations between the United States and Sri Lanka."
U.S. and Sri Lankan officials gauged the progress the two countries have made in advancing bilateral trade and investment since the last TIFA Council meeting in May 2008. The government representatives discussed common areas of interest in which the two countries can work together to further expand bilateral trade and cooperation. The representatives discussed the status of the ongoing WTO/Doha negotiations, Sri Lanka's use of the U.S. Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, and U.S. trade capacity building assistance to Sri Lanka. The TIFA Council also discussed issues affecting U.S. exports including: Sri Lanka's agricultural biotechnology policies; high import tariffs; intellectual property rights protection; and transparency in government procurement.
On July 2, 2002, the United States and Sri Lanka concluded a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) to provide a forum for the two countries to examine ways to expand bilateral trade and investment. The TIFA Council facilitates an ongoing dialogue to help increase commercial and investment opportunities by identifying and working to remove impediments to trade and investment flows between the United States and Sri Lanka.
Total two-way trade between Sri Lanka and the United States totaled $2.3 billion in 2008, with U.S. imports of $2 billion and U.S. exports of $283 million. The leading U.S. exports to Sri Lanka were aircraft, cereals, industrial machinery, electrical machinery and plastics. U.S. imports from Sri Lanka are primarily apparel, rubber, precious stones and industrial machinery. In 2008, U.S. imports from Sir Lanka qualifying for GSP preferences were valued at $153 million.