Indian delegation is due to visit the country early next month to finalise the draft agreement and the government will go ahead signing it, said Sri Lankan in his address to Parliament
The Dollar Business Bureau
In a step-ahead move enhancing bilateral ties, India and Sri Lanka seem to be all set to sign the ‘Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA)’ by mid-2016, extending cooperation in economy and technical cooperation in various fields.
An official announcement in this regard was reportedly made by the Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on Tuesday in his address to the Sri Lankan Parliament.
“Indian delegation is due to visit the country early next month to finalise the draft agreement and the government will go ahead signing it despite opposition coming from political parties, trade unions and professional groups," said Ranil Wickremesinghe, according to the reports.
The Sri Lankan PM was said to have expressed more willingness over the pact terming it as ‘beneficial’ to Sri Lankans, thrashing away the misconception among them that ‘the country would be flooded with Indian workers’ if the pact is signed.
"What we are trying to sign will be better than the CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement). CEPA was to include services. We did not accept that. So the Indians coming here and threatening our jobs is not true. There will be more job opportunities for Sri Lankans," he said.
It is noteworthy that Sri Lanka’s opposition parties had expressed unwillingness over the pact saying that would hurt Sri Lanka’s economic interests and had demanded the sorting out of existing FTA between the two countries before the conclusion of the proposed deal.
The preliminary discussions for the proposed ECTA were held during the fourth Commerce Secretary-level talks between the Indian and Sri Lankan sides in New Delhi on December 21, 2015 and the recent announcement is a step-ahead move in that direction.
The recent announcement gains importance in view of the ongoing competition between India and China in terms of ‘expanding presence’ in Sri Lanka and also when Sri Lanka is already under FTA negotiations with other Asian nations.
“The agreements that are to be entered under the framework of the Economic and Technical Comprehensive Framework Agreement (ETCFA) include an agreement on trade in goods & services and investment – the same components that made up the old CEPA. However, what is specific here is that the ETCFA does not have special provisions relating to any of these areas and the specifics are to be worked out only after the ETCFA is signed,” read an official press release by the Sri Lankan political opposition group, last week.
The Sri Lankan PM was said to have expressed more willingness over the pact terming it as ‘beneficial’ to Sri Lankans
February 24, 2016 | 04:10pm IST