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Singapore and Sri Lanka commit to FTA by end of 2017

Singapore and Sri Lanka committed to arriving at a free trade agreement by the end of this year, Singapore's foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan said following his meeting with his Sri Lankan counterpart in Colombo on Monday. 

"It will be a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, ambitious free trade agreement. It will demonstrate to the world that both of us are open for business and we encourage all investments," he was quoted by Straits Times as saying. 

Describing both countries as hubs of their respective regions for economic ties and shipments, Mr Balakrishnan said, "the bigger the pipeline we build to connect these two hubs, the greater the opportunities will be for our respective regions."

"Sri Lanka and Singapore have had a longstanding strong friendship. It is anchored on our culture, historical and kinship ties which actually go back centuries."

Tamils from the North-East, mainly Jaffna, travelled in vast numbers to Singapore in the 19th and early 20th century. Tamil is one of Singapore's four official languages.