Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 20 September 2015





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Government Gazette

Defeated elements trying to revive ‘defamed political image’:

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 PM’s visit.

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.



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