Govt urges Hungary’s support for FTA with EU | Daily News

Govt urges Hungary’s support for FTA with EU

The government would be elated if Hungary supported the EU to consider commencing discussions with Sri Lanka leading to a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in the foreseeable future, urged Minister of Trade Bandula Gunawardhana addressing a high profile business delegation from Hungary led by the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó who arrived in Sri Lanka to give a further flip to existing bi-lateral relations between two countries.

The visit was organised by the Embassy of Hungary in New Delhi in association with the Foreign Ministry. The National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka held a business forum yesterday at Taj Samudra Hotel, Colombo with the participation of the visiting delegates, followed by B2B meetings with the potential local business partners.

Minister Gunawardhana, speaking at the event said, “ I would be basically elated if Hungary supports the EU to consider commencing discussions with Sri Lanka leading to a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) in the foreseeable future. A PTA with the EU and Sri Lanka would further expand bilateral trade between the two countries as well. Sri Lanka has FTAs with a number of major countries including India, Pakistan and Singapore and few countries are under negotiations for FTAs and PTAs.”

Minister Gunawardhana said further bi-lateral trade hovers around USD 35 to 50 million between two countries. And the balance of trade is heavily in favor of Hungary.

“On the same note, Sri Lanka is very well positioned and poised to be a manufacturing, outsourcing and services hub in South Asia and South East Asia for corporates and entities of Hungary to take the vantage of its strategic and central location.

Sri Lanka is a gateway to South Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia and Middle East encompassing a total population of well over 3.7 billion or half of the global population. In this context, many of the Sri Lankan corporates and companies are exploring new ventures to have value addition in sectors such as natural rubber, ICT, fibre, graphite and minerals, tea, gems and jewelry, fisheries products and manufactured goods, amongst others, in order to penetrate not only the vibrant market of Hungary but the European and Eastern European markets.

On a similar note, it is befitting and timely to conduct the Second Session of the Sri Lanka-Hungary Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation, preferably, in the first half of this year. The Minister added that Sri Lanka received less than 5,000 tourists and visitors from Hungary before the COVID, which is a small figure compared to the number of total Hungarian tourists who travelled out of the country. According to statistics, in 2018/2019, approximately 7.8 million Hungarian tourists have travelled out of the country. If Sri Lanka could attract not 1% but only 0.5 percent of the Hungarian tourists, this number would translate to close to 40,000 or 800 % increase of the tourists that Sri Lanka receives from Hungary.

Minister Gunawardhana also recalled financial assistance extended over the years by the Government of Hungary to Sri Lanka through the Framework Agreement for Financial Cooperation. Accordingly, the Government of Hungary has extended generous loans to finance four key developmental projects exceeding well over Euros 150 million, which would be of immense benefits to the socio-economic landscape of the country.

Speaking at the event, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó said Sri Lanka and Hungary are currently negotiating agreements to avoid double taxation.

In addition, we are negotiating an agreement in the field of civil aviation and mutual recognition of vaccination certificates for citizens of both countries to travel within the respective countries without any hassle.

Add new comment