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Indo-Lanka trade balloons to US$ 2 billion

BILATERAL TRADE: The two-way trade operating under the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) has reached almost US$ 2.0 billion, representing a staggering increase of nearly 80% in the bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka.

"India and Sri Lanka has maintained a healthy relationship in the commercial sector and the growth of the trade should be measured considering the quality and the quantity.

Beginning with the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), our exporters can identify the ways of supplying goods and services to the markets emerging in the other countries in every aspect," Enterprise Development and Investment Promotion Minister Rohitha Bogollagama said yesterday at a seminar on 'Exports to India and Pakistan markets under the FTA'.

Minister pointed out that ISFTA has become a major activity while FTA with Pakistan is just off the ground heading towards a positive development. "Both the countries are rich in consumer interest. Sri Lanka has opened up positively in deed and in spirit to FTA and has become the third largest importer of Indian goods ," Minister explained.

Minister added that the investors should take advantage of the zero rated arrangements.

"They should not only export our products but also make use of the raw materials in producing novel goods.

FTA will help to build up the political connectivity in enhancing this trade. Exporters' confidence will generate higher values and people will benefit through this trade," Minister said.

"The rural sector has land and resources and Indian and Pakistani investors can harness these resources.

Sri Lanka should also take the opportunity in promoting their products in Qatar and Dubai as the supply was contracted due to the Gulf war. The private sector should also be involved in this," he said. Minister also added that it is expected that the trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan would increase with products traded being diversified in the near future.

The Deputy Director, Department of Commerce Nimal Karunathilake said that there are about 4,000 products that can be exported duty free.

"At present there is an imbalance in the trade but the import-export ratio has been improving to the advantage of our country. We are trying to minimise this imbalance. Then we can move beyond FTA offering services together with goods," he said.

He also said that several development methods are due to be implemented under the FTA with both India and Pakistan.

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