'India set to improve trade with its neighbours'
The new Indian government is still settling down and has not
indicated changes in its trade with Sri Lanka.
"The focus of the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra
Modi will be on the economy and trade," Deputy High Commissioner of
India, P. Kumaran told Industry and Commerce Minister Rishard Bathiudeen
when he paid a farewell courtesy call on the Minister last week.
"We are happy about the pick up in Indo-Lanka trade and investments
during the past three years. But we can do much better.
The outlook of the Indian economy is more positive. Sri Lanka should
take advantage of this," he said.
"There is no change in India's trade and investment push towards Sri
Lanka by the new administration as yet," Kumaran said.
"The fact that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has a credible record as
a good economic manager changes the entire outlook.
There will be much improvement in trade and investment with
neighbouring countries," he said.
"However, there is a need for priority on two aspects - the first
being the speeding up of the proposed automobile sector manufacturing
and the pharmaceutical zones.
The second being the two agreements to improve FTA implementation -
the testing and standards needs and Customs facilitation," Kumaran said.
"We have already submitted draft proposals to Sri Lanka and are
awaiting response. Lankan exporters have difficulties in Chennai.
'Testing' is the other aspect - Sri Lankan exporters want this to be
standardised," he said.
"If our draft proposals on these two aspects are considered and
conclude the agreements speedily, we can move towards the special
economic partnership including increase of trade and reduction of the
"The new government, it is still settling down," Kumaran said.
According to the Department of Commerce sources, bilateral trade
between the two countries stood at US $ 3,636.0 million in 2013.
Exports from Sri Lanka to India in 2013 stood at US $ 543.3 million
while total imports from India to Sri Lanka stood at US $ 3,092.6
The balance of trade between India and Sri Lanka has always remained
in favour of India due to the increased outlay on major imports such as
petroleum products, automobiles, cotton and sugar from India. The
unfavourable balance (of trade) narrowed in 2013 - to US $ 2549.3
million compared to US $ 2,950.8 million in 2012.
Minister Bathiudeen said, "We are also keen to see better bilateral
trade so that exporters on both sides benefit.
"Our exports to India are still at theUS $ 550 million level and show
unrealised upward potential that could be fulfilled with closer
cooperation," he said.
India hopes to invest more than US $ 2 billion in Sri Lanka within
the next two years in diverse sectors, including telecommunications,
hospitality, transport, banking and finance, hotels, sugar refining
(India's Renuka Industries), juice processing (Darbur Corp's project)
and real estate projects (Tata Housing Ltd).