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Sri Lanka the loser by delaying CEPA agreement with India says Indian Envoy

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by Mario Andree

Time was not in Sri Lanka’s favour as it stands to lose major opportunities with India seeking to finalise comprehensive economic partnership agreements (CEPA) with other nations, the Indian High Commissioner in Colombo Ashok K. Kantha said.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-pic: PTI

“The governments of both countries have not had enough dialog to rectify and finalise the agreement.

“Despite several issues and internal turbulence, India was looking at strengthening the economic partnership with Sri Lanka, however the two countries have had no active dialog to support the agreement,” he said speaking at a recent forum.

Kantha invited the Sri Lankan government and the private sector to discuss any issues on the CEPA, saying that the Indian government was ready to support the country.

With no foreseeable solution for the western economic crisis, the two countries had to look at each other for economic links, he said.

“However, Sri Lanka seems to be taking its own time which would cost the country several benefits.”

He said India was looking at signing several other agreement’s in the region for stronger economic partnership which could cost Sri Lanka many opportunities if the country did not act fast.

“Despite the trade outlook not being favorable, India was ready to support Sri Lanka develop the economy, however it Sri Lanka needs to take the lead and call on necessary amendments to strengthen the relationship further and India was ready to open up,” he said.

Trade between the two countries have dropped considerably with imports from India to Sri Lanka down 12 percent and exports down 9 percent with the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement not being fully utilized.

He said despite several issues would have supported trade between the two countries, India was in the process of working on removing several caps imposed on imports from Sri Lanka.

According to the High Commissioner, both countries have taken the current system for granted and was not working towards a stronger economic partnership, which would benefit both countries GDP to grow. courtesy: The Island

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