- Created on Friday, 16 December 2011 09:56
The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CEPA) between India and Sri Lanka will be signed as soon as all the stake-holders in Sri Lanka are on board.
This was stated here today by Sri Lankan high Commissioner to India Prasad Kariyawasam while speaking at a road show organised to promote Sri Lanka Expo 2012.
He said India is Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner. "Negotiations are in progress on the rolling text of CEPA. We are still in the process of taking all the stake-holders in Sri Lanka on board. Both countries are equally keen on signing CEPA. And it will be signed as soon as all the stake-holders come on board."
However, he did not specify a specific time-frame.
Meanwhile, the turnover of bilateral trade between the two countries is likely to touch the $5-billion mark by the end of this year, according to data released by the Indian high commission in Colombo today.
When the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) came into force in the year 2000, the bilateral trade turnover amounted to a paltry $658 million. In the 11 years since then, the bilateral trade will have surged by 7.6 times to an impressive $5 billion.
This will make Sri Lanka India’s biggest trade partner in South Asia. Incidentally, Sri Lanka is the first country in this region with which India has signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
India today is among the top four investors in Sri Lanka. The country was the largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2010 with investments worth $110 million.
The cumulative Indian investment in the island-nation since 2003 has crossed $650 million. Several Indian companies are planning investments in Sri Lanka in the coming years. Investments by Sri Lankan companies in India too are surging as Sri Lankan businessmen take advantage of India’s dynamic economy.
The 116-year-old Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), a non-government industry-led-and-industry-managed body that represents nearly 100,000 public and private sector companies, estimates that the bilateral trade will cross the $7-billion mark in 2015.
Economists and business leaders here believe that CEPA will provide the next big boost to bilateral trade, and feel that all possible efforts should be made to put it in place without any further delay.