Aug 04, Colombo: India has assured Sri Lanka of preferential access to the large Indian market saying that it is not seeking reciprocity in trade.
"Accepting the principle of asymmetry that India has always done as the leading economy of South Asia we are not seeking reciprocity," the Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles, Anand Sharma has said.
Minister Sharma who is on a four-day visit to Sri Lanka has given this assurance during discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership following his participation in the inauguration of the 'India Show' in Colombo on Friday.
The Indian Minister Saturday called on the Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa at the Temple Trees for further discussions on India's commitment to be a friend and a partner of Sri Lanka in meeting its aspirations of growth and development.
Speaking at the inauguration of "The India Show- Land of Limitless Opportunities", the three-day trade exhibition that showcases India's products and services, set a target to double the trade turnover between India and Sri Lanka from the existing level to US$ 10 billion by the year 2015.
"We have set the target to double the trade to US$ 10 Billion by 2015. Captains of industry have accepted and endorsed it", said the Minister.
He announced that India will assist Sri Lanka in the establishment of a special economic zone (SEZ) near Trincomalee for manufacturing engineering and automobile components to promote exports to the production chains in India. The proposed Engineering and Automobile components hub will also have a Skill Training Institute, he added.
India and Sri Lanka will also work together towards the establishment of a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Sri Lanka, Sharma announced.
An agreement to setup a Joint Task Force which will submit its report within 90 days and to work on the implementation of establishment of the two SEZs has also been reached during discussions.
The composition of the Joint Task Force from India would be finalized during the Minister's visit itself.
Highlighting the global trend of formation of regional trade blocks and bilateral economic agreements, the visiting Minister underlined the need for economic integration within South Asia, which could be part of larger Asian trade and economic architecture.
The Minister emphasized that the signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between the two countries will make the current economic engagement more comprehensive by bringing more investment and services into Sri Lanka.
"India has an abiding commitment in Sri Lanka's Development and FTA has definitely contributed to the increase in trade", said the Indian Minister.
The Commerce Secretaries of the two countries will resume dialogue on CEPA, and resolve all related issues, he said.
He also appreciated the large infrastructure projects being implemented by the Indian Companies including the Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) in Sri Lanka such as Railway projects and the Sampur Power plant project.
The Minister also highlighted that India has been among the top investors in Sri Lanka, is Sri Lanka's largest trading partner and source of largest number of tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka.
Minister Bathiyutheen has said the signing of India Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in 1998 an historic milestone and underlined the synergy between Indian and Sri Lankan companies as a competitive necessity.
The Minister highlighting that the resurgent Sri Lankan economy was growing at a rate of over 8% during last two years invited Indian corporate sector to be part of Sri Lanka's growth.
The Indian Minister along with Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Industry & Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister for Urban Affairs A.H.M. Fowzie, and Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda inaugurated the exhibition.
(Photos by Sudath Silva)