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Sri Lanka hopes to finalise a Free Trade Agreement with China before the end of this year

Development Strategies and International Trade Minister Malik Samarawickrema said that he was confident of a free trade pact beneficial to both countries being finalized before December. He made this assessment at the end of bilateral talks with China in Beijing last week according to Sri Lankan media reports

The Cabinet of Ministers recently approved a proposal by Samarawickrema to sign an Investment Promotion and Economic and Technical Cooperation agreement with China, under the Memorandum of Understanding that was entered into in April 2016.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who led the Sri Lankan delegation at talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang said that the government was not looking at individual projects alone, but pursuing its goal of developing Sri Lanka into a logistical and shipping hub as well.

"Our discussions included the Colombo Financial City, the Hambantota Industrial Project and the next steps involved." , he said adding that China would honour its commitments.

The Prime Minister said that both Japan and China had accepted Sri Lanka as the hub of the Indian Ocean considering its strategic location.

Sri Lanka plans to use its strategic location and leverage on our connectivity, to become the Hub of the Indian Ocean. History has shown peace and freedom of navigation always resulted in economic growth and prosperity", he added.

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