Oct 11, Colombo: In a measure to boost bilateral trade with India, the Sri Lanka Cabinet of ministers has approved the proposed establishment of a Joint Task Force representing public and private authorities of both countries.
The establishment of Joint Task Force proposed by the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen is aimed at promoting mutual trade between India and Sri Lanka and promoting Indian investments in several key sectors including pharmaceuticals, textiles and auto accessories etc.
Currently the annual value of bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and India stands at nearly US$ 5 billion but the trade is mostly one-way with Sri Lanka's exports to India reaching over US$ 500 million while its imports from India is nearly US$ 4.5 billion in 2011.
Sri Lanka is currently exploring ways to increase its exports to India.
India has also agreed to set up an Export Oriented Special Economic Zone with facilities for skill development to promote exports to India from Sri Lanka.
According to Cabinet Spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, the Special Economic Zone will most probably be set up in Trincomalee in the Eastern Province where, India has agreed to build a coal-powered power plant.
India has already communicated the details of its nominees to be appointed to the Joint task Force, the Minister said in the cabinet briefing Thursday.
The Government representatives of India will be headed by Joint Secretary of Indian Department of Commerce of the Industry and Commerce Ministry while Sri Lankan side will be headed by the Secretary to Ministry of Commerce and Industry Anura Siriwardena.
On the basis of public-private participation, on the part of Sri Lanka four major mercantile sectors representing the government will be included in the Joint Task Force, Rambukwella added.