At the same time, SAFTA is undergoing major changes. The 2004 agreement brings together Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal and Pakistan to remove tariff and non-tariff barriers. However, according to INDRAJIT Coomaraswamy, Governor of the CBSL, more than a third of intra-regional trade under SAFTA is on the sensitive list, while restrictions on entry between Pakistan and India impede the movement of goods and prevent regional integration. The growing trade deficit shows no signs of slowing and rose from $2.88 billion in the first half of 2016 to $4.75 billion $US end of June 2017 and $5.7 billion $US in the first half of 2018. Provisional data from the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) for the month of November 2018 showed that the trade deficit increased from $999 million in November 2017 to $785 million $US in October 2018. In addition to promoting foreign direct investment, Sri Lanka also promotes exports and trade liberalization. It has Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) status in the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, Australia and Turkey and GSP+ in the EU (see analysis). In addition, the country is a signatory to the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA), the Asia-Pacific Trade Agreement, the Global System of Trade Preferences among Developing Countries, the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement and SAFTA. The free trade agreement between Sri Lanka and Singapore was also signed in 2018, but it is likely to be amended before it enters into force (see analysis). Meanwhile, the DoC formulates foreign trade policy and promotes bilateral, regional, and multilateral trade relations in four departments: multilateral trade affairs, bilateral trade relations, regional cooperation, and trade promotion.

The department thus plays a key role in international trade negotiations with bodies such as the World Trade Organization and the EU. The DoC is also responsible for the ongoing monitoring and evaluation of free trade agreements (FTAs), preferential trade agreements, and comprehensive economic partnership agreements. The Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade (MODSIT) and the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MIC) are the main government agencies responsible for trade and investment growth. They work together to implement support programmes, develop strategies to attract foreign and private direct investment and expand international opportunities for Sri Lankan products. Under MODSIT work the Investment Board of Directors (BOI), the Export Development Board (EDB) and the Department of Commerce (DoC). Safeguard and promote Sri Lanka`s economic, commercial and commercial interests in multilateral for a through effective representation and participation in discussions and negotiations at all levels (i.e. Β decision and technical) to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), as well as to cooperation and cooperation with like-minded WTO member countries in order to forge common positions on subjects of major interest to Sri Lanka. Organization of training programs/workshops with foreign resources staff in Colombo and regional cities on topics related to new developments in international trade and WTO agreements. In 2018, EDB launched its five-year National Export Strategy (NES), focusing on four pillars: export diversification; harnessing geostrategic advantages to become an efficient shopping and logistics hub; strengthen the entry and compliance practices of Sri Lankan exporters; and to create a transparent, predictable and commercial policy and regulatory framework. .

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