Workshops to guide exporters and officials to understand Indian standards and regulations
Trade issues to be resolved parallel tonegotiations, ETCA inking target mid-2016
SL to exclude liberalisation of professions others than ship building and IT
The latest round of top level discussions between Sri Lanka and India focussed on smoothening regulations and increasing awareness so a framework agreement could be worked out within the next two months, the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry said in a statement yesterday.
The 4th Commerce Secretary level meeting between India and Sri Lanka took place last week in Delhi. The new framework called the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), that takes the current India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) to the next level, was discussed by both parties. “Our proposed framework envisages exclusion of professional labour liberalisation by Sri Lanka other than in two subsectors, viz., ship builders and IT professionals,” the statement said.
For better market access to the Indian market, the Sri Lankan delegation highlighted a number of issues that local exporters face in the Indian market which the Indian side will address in parallel to the negotiations on the Framework Agreement and the final ETCA.
The signing of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on standards was also discussed. Moreover, the Indian side will organise workshops in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan exporters/officials to increase awareness of Indian standards, regulations, certificate of origin, and other measures, during January/February 2016. The two sides are striving to work towards signing the Framework Agreement by February 2016 and the ETCA by mid-2016.
India is Sri Lanka’s largest as well as the most balanced trading partner. Overall bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded $ 4.5 billion in 2014. India is the largest source of imports to Sri Lanka and the third largest destination for Sri Lankan exports. It is among the first five largest investors in Sri Lanka and bulk of the Sri Lankan FDI overseas is located in India.
The ETCA will support by building on this solid foundation taking into account the asymmetry between the two countries, the ministry said.
“For a small country like Sri Lanka, it is always advantageous to engage in rules-based trading with a larger trading partner like India, and ETCA will provide that framework for deeper economic engagement with India.”