No waste will enter country under Singapore FTA | Daily News

No waste will enter country under Singapore FTA

National Policies and Economic Affairs State Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva assured that no municipal waste will enter the country through the Singapore FTA and the status quo will remain as before.

He said the laws pertaining to imports will apply to whatever is being brought into the country and import and export of waste or other harmful materials cannot be controlled by imposing duties and they can only be controlled through Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs).

Addressing the media at Sirikotha yesterday, the State Minister said various groups had alleged that the FTA will pave way for waste products to be dumped in Sri Lanka.

Refuting this allegation, he said waste products including human waste, clinical waste, municipal waste had been mentioned in the FTA under the duty-free list.

“But this is not a new thing and they have also been included in Pakistan - Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) which came into force in 2005 when Mahinda Rajapaksa was the Prime Minister and also in the India-Sri Lanka FTA. “But none of these countries have dumped their garbage in Sri Lanka,” he said.

“Sri Lanka’s rights under Article 20 of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) /1994 of WTO to take measures to protect human animal or plant life is ensured by inclusion of Article 17.7 on General Exemption under chapter 17 of the Agreement.

“So under the Singapore- Sri Lanka FTA, these products cannot come into the country and those wastes have to go through the import licensing requirements and rules and regulations applicable to protect human, animal and plant life such as the quarantine law”. “Therefore Sri Lanka is free to introduce environmental measures to protect human, animal or plant life. Furthermore our rights under International environmental conventions that Sri Lanka is signatory to such as the Basel convention are not affected and Environmental laws and regulation of the country will continue to be applied,” he said.

The State Minister said the Singapore- Sri Lanka FTA is very much essential to Sri Lanka since most of the countries have entered into intergovernmental agreements by forming trade blocks. So we cannot remain isolated in the world. Some countries have started to work together through global production networks.

He further said that countries in East Asia region have thriving trade and economic relations with each other through free trade agreements. The leaders of 16 participating countries established the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to broaden and deepening the engagement among parties and to enhance parties’ participation in economic development in the region.

The RCEP negotiations were launched by Leaders from ten ASEAN Member States Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and six ASEAN FTA partners Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand. Only Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not become RCEP members.

“If we cannot enter into an agreement with at least one country how can we work with others?” he questioned.

He stressed the importance of being a member of RCEP claiming that the country’s future economic development is completely depends on the economic ties between other countries in the world.

The Minister further stressed that no Indian, Singapore or Pakistan national can enter the Sri Lankan job market through this agreement. He urged not to take political advantage by spreading baseless allegations with regard to this agreement.


 

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