India and Sri Lanka resumes ETCA negotiations.
By: Staff Writer
Colombo (LNW): The 12th Round of Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) negotiations between Sri Lanka and India took place from 30 October to 1 November in Colombo.
Sri Lanka›s vision has always been to integrate with the largest economies in Asia and East Asia, emphasizing export diversification while maintaining and nurturing existing major export markets.
The ultimate goal is to connect with key players through the global value chain to boost the country›s economy and improve the living standards of its people.
The discussions during this round of negotiations hold immense promise. The visit of the President of Sri Lanka to New Delhi on 29 July 2023 set the stage for a renewed commitment to the ETCA, which had been on hold since 2018.
Both Heads of State, representing Sri Lanka and India, agreed to comprehensively enhance bilateral trade and investments, especially, in new and priority areas.
During the latest talks, both sides assessed the progress made in the last 11 rounds and engaged in discussions on various chapters including Trade in Goods, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Trade in Services, Custom Procedure & Trade Facilitation, Rules of Origin, Trade Remedies, Economic & Technology Cooperation and Dispute Settlement.
“During this round, both sides reviewed the progress on implementation and decided to drop 9 issues as being resolved. Issues such as the quota on apparel and pepper and the procurement of pharmaceuticals were also discussed and both sides decided to continue the discussion and explore new options for resolution of the matter.”
The two countries had 11 rounds of bilateral talks from 2016 to 2018. Thereafter the negotiations were paused.
Both South Asian neighbours already have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in place with India earning more foreign exchange in the trade.
Former president Mahinda Rajapaksa-led nationalist Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party and some of professional bodies backing the party opposed the ETCA when it was scheduled to be signed.
Later, the signing was postponed, but never took place.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe is now backed by the SLPP after mass protests against the party and Rajapaksa family members forced them out of the offices.
Analysts say ETCA was used for political mileage by SLPP, triggering an anti-Indian sentiment when it was the opposition without properly assessing its threats and opportunities.
Sri Lanka President’s Media Division (PMD) in a statement said the island nation’s vision has always been to integrate with the largest economies in Asia and East Asia, emphasizing export diversification while maintaining and nurturing existing major export markets.