- Published on Thursday, 14 June 2012 15:33
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Sri Lanka says there is no move on its part to impose any restrictions on the import of Indian goods under the already arranged South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA). Cabinet Spokesman, Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella today clarified the factual situation on the news report in a section of media "on the need to further restrict imports from India by amending the SAFTA”
he Minister said that Sri Lanka has already signed several bilateral agreements with neighboring SAARC countries, especially with India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Maldives under which various incentives have been made for the benefit of manufacturers and exporters of the parties in the respective countries. The Minister further clarifying said the government is of the belief that there should be further discussions on the provisions of any MOUs with any country if it largely affects the local industry or the agricultural produces. This is common to both parties of the agreement.
"If there is a pressure to the agro industry of the country as a result of implementing any bilateral agreement, the government will start negotiations in such an event" said Keheliya Rambukwella clarifying the factual position about the news report that explicitly reported that the government is going to impose restrictions on imports from India under SAFTA.
Sri Lanka maintains preferential trade agreements with neighboring SAARC countries of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. and Maldives under which several items have been listed for tariff concessions beneficial to the exporters and importers. Sri Lanka also maintains preferential trade agreement with USA on export of readymade garments and other items.
India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner globally, while Sri Lanka is India’s largest trading partner in SAARC. It is the number one source of supplies accounting for nineteen percent of Sri Lanka’s total imports and third largest export destination for Sri Lankan products absorbing six percent of total exports.
Among tourists, Indian visitors make the largest single group having a share of twenty percent of total arrivals. SriLankan Airlines, the national carrier is one of the largest foreign airline operates with 61 weekly flights to 7 cities in India.
Trade between Sri Lanka and India has grown rapidly after the entry into force of the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in March 2000. The value of bilateral trade increased fromUS$658 million in 2000 to US$ 3.01 billion in 2010.