Jun 14, Colombo: Sri Lanka is considering amending bilateral trade agreements with the neighboring SAARC countries as the need arises but there is no move to impose restrictions on imports from India under the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), a government minister said Thursday.
Clarifying media reports that said Sri Lanka is to amend SAFTA, Cabinet Spokesman, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella said today at the weekly cabinet decision press briefing that Sri Lanka has already signed several bilateral agreements with neighboring SAARC countries, especially with India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Maldives under which various incentives have been made for the benefit of manufacturers and exporters of the parties in the respective countries.
The Minister said the government believes that there should be further discussions on the provisions of any agreements with any country if they affect the local industry or the agricultural products.
"It could be Pakistan, Nepal, Maldives, Bangladesh or any other SAARC country, we have decided to review the agreement if the local industries are affected with the imports under SAFTA," the Cabinet Spokesman said.
"This is common to both parties of the agreement," he pointed out.
The Minister denied the reports that the government is to restrict only imports from India under SAFTA which was signed in 2004.
Sri Lanka maintains preferential trade agreements with neighboring SAARC countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Maldives under which several items have been listed for tariff concessions beneficial to the exporters and importers.