Defeated elements trying to revive ‘defamed political
No CEPA talks with India - Samarawickrema
The Sri Lankan government clarified that the CEPA with India was not
on the agenda during Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to New
Delhi last week.
Minister of Development Strategy and International Trade, Malik
Samarawickrema said that there was no discussion or signing of any
agreements on the controversial trade agreement with India during the
He blamed ‘some defeated political elements’ attempting to discredit
Prime Minister’s visit to revive their ‘defamed political image’ by
issuing baseless statements regarding the CEPA.
Samarawickrema said that these defeated politicians signed many
agreements with other countries not for the country but for their
personal gain. Several unscrupulous businessmen are also behind these
politicians providing financial backing to discredit the newly formed
government, he alleged.
CEPA has been a cause for concern among various factions in civil
society including business entrepreneurs, industrialists and
economists.A National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka official said
that before the authorities come to a conclusion, the CEPA Agreement
should be analyzed in greater detail as regards the implications
involved, advantages and disadvantages and most of all how it will
affect the economy, business and industries in Sri Lanka.
During the visit of President Maithripala Sirisena to India early
this year, the importance of resuming discussions on CEPA was emphasized
by the Prime Minister of India. However, the Department of Commerce has
so far not been given an official mandate from the authorities to resume
negotiations. In the event such mandate is given, negotiations will have
to be driven by the trade and through consultations with stakeholders in
keeping with the economic interests of the country.
Negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)
with India have not taken place since the conclusion of the third round
of the Trade Negotiating Committee meeting in July 2008 due to the
concerns expressed by certain private sector stakeholders in Sri Lanka
on the possible adverse effects of CEPA, particularly in the
liberalization of services, Department of Commerce sources said.
There are also concerns on non-tariff barriers under the existing
India-Sri Lanka Trade Agreement that need to be addressed before
commencing a more comprehensive economic engagement under a more
wide-ranging instrument such as CEPA.
Trade experts said Sri Lanka should first focus on making full use of
the Free Trade agreement with India rather than going in for a CEPA
which needs wide consultation with key stakeholders and a comprehensive
analysis of its impact on the country.
They said a large part of our trade with India is done outside of the
FTA and added that measures should be taken to make good use of it to
boost bilateral trade.
Trade between Sri Lanka and India stood at US$ 4,602.5 million last
year, a 26.6 percent growth compared to the previous year.
The Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) which was signed in
1998 and came into force from 2000, provides duty free concessions to a
wide range of products traded between the two countries.