Acting on a proposal submitted by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, the Cabinet has approved the setting up of an Inter-Agency Committee to prepare a new draft framework to restart negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Sri Lanka.
The CEPA agreement, expected to be an extension of the existing Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) has been discussed between Sri Lanka and India since the 2008 South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Colombo but is yet to be signed.
Representatives from both governments who met last November in Colombo have agreed that significant progress has been made under ISFTA and decided to build on that achievement through a more comprehensive framework of economic cooperation.
The Inter-Agency Committee will comprise representatives of the Ministries of Finance, Industry, External Affairs and Economic Development and departments of Immigration, Civil Aviation, BOI and the Attorney General, the government announced.
Opponents of CEPA argue that the agreement benefits India more than Sri Lanka and would adversely affect Sri Lankan businesses while Sri Lankan businesses argue that the country cannot implement CEPA due to monitoring and regulatory inadequacies in the system.
Economic experts however, say the dangers highlighted by the opponents of CEPA is imaginary and signing CEPA will result in huge opportunities for Sri Lankan professionals in one of the most attractive, high-growth markets in the world. (Colombo Page)