Sri Lanka insists on removing trade barriers for new deal with India

EconomyNext –  Sri Lanka’s Commerce Ministry has told India that a new trade deal to strengthen economic ties between the two neighbours should be preceded by the removal of existing non-tariff barriers.

The Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) now works very well with India becoming the top product supplier to Sri Lanka, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said.

"Once the remaining issues of some of our current exporters to India are resolved, we can move towards a broader economic engagement as you request," he was quoted as telling Arindam Bagchi, Deputy High Commissioner of India in Colombo, during a meeting. 

"Tariff liberalisation alone will not create market access for Sri Lanka in international markets. It needs to be supported by the removal of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) too.”

Sri Lanka’s new government formed after the election of President Maithripala Sirisena in the January 8 presidential poll has promised to deepen ties with India.

Talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Arrangement with India had stalled owing to opposition from local protectionist business interests.

Sri Lankan businesses have complained that despite market access given under the FTA, they face non-tariff barriers that make it difficult to export to India.

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