Sri Lanka to join Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership: president

(Xinhua) 16:59, February 07, 2024

COLOMBO, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe Wednesday said his country plans to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The president said at the inauguration of the fifth session of the ninth parliament that there has been a significant turnaround in the nation's economic landscape.

Presenting his policy statement, Wickremesinghe said that despite the 1.9 percent gross domestic product (GDP) deficit in 2022, Sri Lanka achieved a surplus by the end of 2023, marking the first such occurrence since 1977.

He said the country's tax registrations have surged from 437,547 to 1,000,029 between 2022 and 2023, and inflation, which stood at 50.6 percent last year, has dramatically decreased to a mere 6.4 percent today.

Wickremesinghe also revealed that there has been a substantial increase in tourist arrivals.

From 194,495 visitors in 2021, arrivals surged to 1,487,303 in 2023, with over 200,000 tourists visiting in January this year, he said, projecting a further increase in annual tourist arrivals to 5 million in the future.

Wickremesinghe added that despite a 7.8 percent GDP contraction and six consecutive quarters of negative growth since 2022, the nation rebounded with a 1.6 percent growth rate in the third quarter of 2023.

The president said these are remarkable achievements, contrasting them with Greece's decade-long struggle to recover from economic collapse.

Despite facing similar challenges, Sri Lanka managed to accomplish significant progress in a relatively short period, he said.

Wickremesinghe also pledged the modernization of all security networks, including intelligence agencies, equipment, training methods, troops and strategic activities, to effectively address emerging challenges.

The president also proposed to fully implement the free trade agreement with Singapore and pursue similar agreements with China, Indonesia and Bangladesh.

To catalyze economic growth, the Port City of Colombo has been identified as a special financial zone, facilitating the enactment of necessary laws and ordinances for conducting international financial transactions in the region, said Wickremesinghe.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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