Financial Express, India
30 September 2004
FTA Pushes Up India, Lanka Trade By 128%
ASHOK B SHARMA
NEW DELHI, SEPT 29: Bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka has grown by 128% after the free trade agreement (FTA) became operational in March 2000.
Indian exports to Sri Lanka increased from $618 million to $1,319 million while Sri Lankan exports to India increased from $44 million to $194 million during the last four years.
Sri Lanka’s utilisation of its preferential export quotas for items sensitive to India like tea and ready-made garments was below 5%. The surge in Sri Lankan copper exports which created ‘critical circumstances’ was resolved through discussions, through consultative mechanisms in place under FTA, said a study conducted by a joint group on India-Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
The 8th meeting of India-Sri Lanka joint business council (JBC) is slated to take place in Chennai on October 1. A high-powered business delegation from Sri Lanka led by the country’s trade and consumer affairs minister will be participating in the meeting. The meeting will be inaugurated by Indian minister of state for commerce and industry EVKS Elangovan.
According to a JBC member, issues like boosting opportunities for bilateral investment cooperation, cooperation in the service sector, promotion of tourism, assessing impact of FTA on bilateral trade and trade infrastructure will be discussed.
JBC is represented by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) and Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL). The JBC meeting will be chaired by KG Denim Ltd chairman G Baalakrishnan.
According to Ficci estimate, after the operationalisation of FTA, exports to Sri Lanka in the last four years increased by 113% while Sri Lankan exports to India registered an increase of 342%. Indian exports account for 14% of Sri Lanka’s global imports. India is now the fifth largest export destination for Sri Lankan goods accounting for 3.6% of that country’s exports.