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* Sri Lank appoints team for Joint Task Force for trade with India
Sun, Jan 6, 2013, 12:36 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 05, Colombo: Sri Lanka has completed setting up of its team for the high level India-Sri Lanka Joint Task Force (ISJTF) with top officials of some key Ministries and four well-known private sector leaders, the Ministry of Industry and Commerce said in a statement.

"The ISJTF will be a major step not only in historic Indo-Lanka bilateral trade, but even in opening the huge Indian markets for our keen exporters," Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen announced after the first sessional meeting of Lankan ISJTF members held at the Ministry on January 03.

The establishment of Joint Task Force proposed by Minister 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.

Sri Lanka Cabinet of ministers in October last year approved the establishment of the ISJTF consisting of top authorities of private and public sectors of both countries.

The Sri Lankan component of ISJTF consists of eight government officials and four leading private sector reps.

"It is important that we should start focusing on strengthening bilateral trade in non-ISFTA segments and product lines as well in achieving our national export targets under the vision of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. I believe that the visit of Indian Commerce Secretary this month (on 14 January) will help us to move in this direction," Minister Bathiyutheen said at the meeting.

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.

Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena will be the Chairman of the ISJTF while Secretary, Ministry of Health Dr. Y.D. Nihal Jayathilake, Director General of P.D. Fernando Commerce, Deputy Secretary to the Treasury S. R. Attygalle, Director General of Customs Jagath Wijeweera, Director General / South Asia and SAARC, Ministry of External Affairs V. Krishnamoorthy, Director General of External Affairs, Ministry of Economic Development Ms. Saroja Sirisena, and Director / Investment, BOI Wijaya Kulathilleke are the members of the JTF.

Managing Director, D. Samson Industries and Co-Chair, Indo Sri Lanka CEO Forum Kulatunga Rajapaksa, Chairman, John Keells Group and Chairman of Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Susantha Rathnayaka, CEO-Brandix Lanka and Chairman, JAAF, Ashroff Omar and Chairman / Managing Director of Ramya Holdings Pvt and President, National Chamber of Exporters Ms. Ramya Weerakoon will represent the private sector. The Government representatives of India will be headed by Joint Secretary of Indian Department of Commerce of the Industry and Commerce Ministry.

** Related Story :: Sri Lanka sets up joint task force to double bilateral trade with India

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