Conference on Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement
The Institute of Policy Studies is organizing a conference on May 24
and 25 that will assess the progress of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade
Agreement (ILFTA) through the last decade, analyzing the positives and
the negatives, and take stock of how the Agreement should progress in
the next decade.
The conference held at the Taj Samudra Hotel is organized by the
Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka in collaboration with the
Indo-Lanka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the India-Sri Lanka Joint
Business Council and the Centre for WTO Studies.
The conference will focus on evaluating the progress of the ILFTA
during the past 10 years by recollecting the rationale behind the ILFTA
in terms of objectives of the Agreement, and assessing the extent to
which these have been met in the first ten years of implementation.
The outcomes of the Agreement will be looked at both from Indian and
Sri Lankan perspectives in order to highlight the benefits gained and
challenges faced by both countries.
Shortcomings of the ILFTA will be emphasized through areas where the
agreement is yet to meet the expectations envisaged at the inception and
has had unforeseen impacts on the respective countries.
Sessions will also focus on possibilities of evolving bilateral trade
between the two countries over the next decade and potential sectors and
products that could be provide significant growth opportunities.
The overall outcome of the conference is to provide implications for
negotiators for future negotiations drawing on both countries'
subsequent trade negotiations.
With the liberalization of the Indian economy trade relations between
Sri Lanka and India gained momentum since the 1990s.
Since March 2000, trade between the two countries grew rapidly as a
result of the implementation of the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ILFTA).
March 2010 marked ten years since implementation of the ILFTA
This is a historic agreement in that it was the first ever bilateral
FTA entered into by either of the two countries involved.
During this time whilst trade between the two countries has expanded
rapidly, there have also been teething problems and trade disputes that
The continued growth of economic relations between the two countries
in the future is beyond doubt, considering the geographical, political
and cultural realities within which bilateral economies is embedded.
Therefore it is an apt time to consider how these economic relations
should develop in the coming years - should there be more formal
institutionalised arrangements to manage economic relations? Should
these be limited to trade or should they also enter the realms of
services and investment? Or should the two countries slow down the pace
of integration? There are also implications for broader trade relations
- as to whether Sri Lanka should continue to focus on the bilateral
track or place more emphasis on multilateral arrangements? These are the
questions that need to be answered - informed by the experiences of ten
years of implementation of the ILFTA.