The Union Minister of Commerce, Industry & Textiles, Shri Anand Sharma set a target to double the trade turnover between India and Sri Lanka from the existing level to USD 10 billion by the year 2015. Speaking at the inauguration of “The India Show- Land of Limitless Opportunities” today at Colombo, Shri Sharma highlighted India’s unbinding commitment to be a friend and a partner of Sri Lanka in meeting its aspirations of growth and development. “We have set the target to double the trade to USD 10 Billion by 2015. Captains of industry have accepted and endorsed it”, said the Minister. The Minister along with Mr. Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Economic Development, Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry & Commerce and Mr. Sarath Amunugama, Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation, Mr. A.H.M. Fawzie, Senior Minister for Urban Affairs and Mr. Douglas Devananda, Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development of Sri Lanka inaugurated The India Show in Colombo.
Shri Sharma, after his discussions with the Sri Lankan leadership in the morning, announced that India will assist Sri Lanka in the establishment of Engineering and Automobile components SEZ which would be located near Trincomalee and will promote exports to the production chains in India. The proposed Engineering and Automobile components hub will also have a Skill Training Institute. The Minister also announced that India and Sri Lanka will work together towards the establishment of a Pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Sri Lanka capitalising on the vast strides made by Indian Pharmaceutical industry in meeting the quality drug requirements worldwide at affordable prices. It was also agreed to setup a Joint Task Force which will submit its report within 90 days and would also work on the implementation of establishment of the two SEZs. The composition of the Joint Task Force from India would be finalised during the Minister’s visit itself.
Shri Sharma, highlighting the global trend of formation of regional trade blocks and bilateral Economic Agreements, underlined the need for economic integration within South Asia, which could be part of larger Asian trade and economic architecture. The Minister also highlighted that India was not seeking reciprocity in trade and economic relationship with Sri Lanka and assured Sri Lanka of preferential access to the large Indian market. “Accepting the principle of asymmetry, that India has always done as the leading economy of South Asia we are not seeking reciprocity”, the Minister added.
The signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) will make the current economic engagement more comprehensive by bringing more investment and services into Sri Lanka. Shri Sharma said that the two Commerce Secretaries will resume dialogue on CEPA, and resolve all related issues. “India has an abiding commitment in Sri Lanka’s Development and FTA has definitely contributed to the increase in trade”, said Shri Sharma.
Shri Sharma also appreciated the large infrastructure projects being implemented by the Indian Companies including the PSUs in Sri Lanka such as Railway projects and the Sampur Power plant project. The Minister also highlighted that India has been among the top investors in Sri Lanka, is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner and source of largest number of tourist arrivals into Sri Lanka.
In his remarks Mr. Rishad Bathiudeen called the signing of India Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in 1998 an historic milestone and underlined the synergy between Indian and Sri Lankan companies as a competitive necessity. Highlighting the resurgent Sri Lankan economy growing at a rate of over 8% during last two years, Mr. Bathiudeen invited Indian corporate sector to be part of Sri Lankan growth story.
Addressing the inaugural session, Senior Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama conveyed the greetings of the President of Sri Lanka and on his behalf wished India Show all the success.