Dec 30, Colombo: Both Sri Lanka and India are working towards finalizing the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) by mid-2016 the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade said in a statement.
Following the Commerce Secretary level talks between the Governments of Sri Lanka and India held in New Delhi recently, the Ministry said the two sides are striving to work towards signing the Framework Agreement by February 2016 and the ETCA by mid-2016.
The statement further said that the Indian side will organize workshops in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan exporters/officials to increase awareness of Indian standards, regulations, certificate of origin, etc., during January/February 2016.
The following is the full text of the statement issued by the Ministry:
The 4th Commerce Secretary level meeting between India and Sri Lanka took place last week in Delhi. The new framework that takes the current India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISLFTA) to the next level called the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) was discussed by both parties. Our proposed framework envisages exclusion of professional labour liberalisation by Sri Lanka other than in two subsectors, viz., ship builders and IT professionals. For better market access to the Indian market, Sri Lankan side highlighted a number of issues that local exporters face in the Indian market which the Indian side will address in parallel to the negotiations on the Framework Agreement and the final ETCA. The signing of Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) on standards was also discussed. Moreover, the Indian side will organise workshops in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan exporters/officials to increase awareness of Indian standards, regulations, certificate of origin, etc., during January/February 2016. The two sides are striving to work towards signing the Framework Agreement by February 2016 and the ETCA by mid-2016.
India is Sri Lanka's largest as well as the most balanced trading partner. Overall bilateral trade between the two countries exceeded US$ 4.5 billion in 2014. India is the largest source of imports to Sri Lanka and the third largest destination for Sri Lankan exports. India is among the first five largest investors in Sri Lanka and bulk of the Sri Lankan FDI overseas is located in India. The ETCA will support to build on this solid foundation taking into account the asymmetry between the two countries. For a small country like Sri Lanka, it is always advantageous to engage in rules-based trading with a larger trading partner like India, and ETCA will provide that framework for deeper economic engagement with India.