September 18, 2023
COLOMBO – The United States and Sri Lanka held the fourteenth Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council Meeting today in Colombo. The technical level meeting was co-chaired by Mr. K.J. Weerasinghe, Chief Negotiator, Office of International Trade, Government of Sri Lanka, and Mr. Brendan Lynch, Acting Assistant United States Trade Representative for South and Central Asia. Both delegations included officials from trade, investment, customs, labor, intellectual property, agriculture, and other relevant agencies. Her Excellency Julie Chung, U.S. Ambassador of to Sri Lanka, and the Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka delivered opening remarks, noting the 75th anniversary of the U.S.-Sri Lanka bilateral relations.
During the TIFA Council meeting, both countries re-engaged on a wide range of bilateral trade and investment-related issues, including policies impacting the investment climate, recent labor reforms, intellectual property protection and enforcement, customs and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, and market access for apparel, gem and jewelry and agricultural products. The two parties also discussed collaboration and technical assistance related to the development of the digital economy, the gem and jewelry industry, floriculture, boat building sectors and the Coconut Research Institute’s technology transfer and research commercialization.
Both the United States and Sri Lanka acknowledged that improving transparency and efficiency in approving foreign direct investment (FDI) in Sri Lanka and the implementation of robust anti-corruption measures are instrumental in supporting domestic economic growth and attracting foreign direct investment. With respect to good governance, the United States emphasized the importance of adopting robust anticorruption measures to ensure accountability and promote transparency within Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka provided updates on their recently proposed anticorruption legislation and requested technical assistance and training from the U.S. government to combat bribery and other forms of corruption.
The United States conveyed to Sri Lanka that working with trading partners to support workers’ rights is a top priority issue for the Biden-Harris Administration. Sri Lanka briefed on the ongoing process to reform its existing labor laws and Sri Lanka’s progress towards aligning with that of internationally recognized labor standards. The United States also emphasized the importance of both consulting with all relevant stakeholders in drafting labor legislation and providing adequate opportunities and time for public review and comment. In this regard, Sri Lanka elaborated on the procedures adopted in labor law reforms. The United States expressed its readiness to extend support in developing and implementing ongoing labor reforms.
The United States encouraged the reduction of agricultural trade barriers to bolster food security in Sri Lanka. The United States also advocated for greater market access for U.S. exports of various agricultural products, including input products such as animal feed to support demand in Sri Lanka’s domestic sector. The United States and Sri Lanka discussed the benefits of advancing the use of biotechnology to promote sustainable agriculture and improve food security.
Sri Lanka highlighted market access for high-value and value-added agricultural products of Sri Lanka, such as organic spices and concentrates, as well as extending GSP preferences to apparel, textiles and leather products, which will benefit Sri Lankan exporters as well as U.S. consumers.
Both countries affirmed the importance of intellectual property (IP) protection and enforcement as a means to promote both bilateral trade and innovation. Sri Lanka provided updates on its amendments to its IP Act and other IP legislation. The United States welcomed deepened engagement with Sri Lanka on these ongoing IP legislative reforms and offered to provide capacity building.
Both governments agreed to strive to make sustained progress on trade issues in advance of the next TIFA Council Meeting to be held in 2024.