may become US free trade partner
Sri Lanka has been named as a "potential candidate" for
US Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), US Trade Representative Robert
Zoellick announced this week.
Speaking at a luncheon meeting of the Institute for International
Economics on Free Trade Agreements and US Trade Policy, Mr. Zoellick
said that the US would accelerate bilateral trade with small countries
and regional approach to liberalising trade especially if the WTO
The UNF government
has been pushing for an FTA with the United States in a bid to safeguard
nearly 200,000 jobs in the garment industry which will face severe
competition once the quota system comes to an end in 2004.
Forty one percent
of Sri Lanka's exports are to the US, bringing in some 2 billion
dollars, a quarter of which is from apparel exports. To qualify
for FTA status, Mr. Zoellick said, the US looks at each country's
economic reforms status, how they support US positions on trade
negotiations, US foreign policy objectives and the impact of an
FTA on further regional integration.
Sri Lanka was
named as a "potential candidate" along with some countries
in West Asia (the Middle East), the Dominican Republic and Columbia.