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Singapore FTA signed without proper consent says president

Sri Lanka's president, Maithripala Sirisena said today the Sri Lankan-Singapore Free Trade Agreement was signed without adequate consent, pointing to the findings of his expert committee. 

The committee was appointed by the president in August following a Joint Opposition protest against the FTA, who claim it was 'illegal'. 

Yesterday evening the expert committee presented their report to Sirisena at the Presidential Secretariat. 

Sirisena's comments will do little to reassure investors, already nervous amid the country's ongoing political crisis. 

Following the committee's appointment, Australia had warned against pulling out of the FTA. "Can you roll back an FTA? The damage to Sri Lanka’s reputation would be so bad in international arena," Elizabeth Ward, an official with Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in September. 

Read more here.

Objecting to the FTA, the then Joint Opposition MP Bandula Gunawardene said, "the government has claimed that a gazette notification containing a list of items for which tax and duty will be removed was issued, but such a document cannot be found. Therefore the FTA is illegal."

"The items that are to be free of taxes under the FTA include animal sperm, elephants, tusks, fish species which are banned from being used as trade items, urethras and artifacts," he said. "In short the bio diversity of our country has been handed over to Singapore."

Colombo professionals had also warned against the signing of the FTA, citing insufficient legal framework for the pact.