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India sees the end of the tunnel in trade talks with Sri Lanka after 14 years of hard negotiations

India has expressed confidence that Sri Lanka would agree to conclude talks on Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement in the next four months. The proposed agreement which faced stiff opposition from the islandís middle class is aimed at liberalizing trade norms besides widening its scope to cover Services and Investment. The talks on concluding the agreement have been going on for the past fourteen years.

The talks are going at a healthy pace and both the countries are targeting to conclude the talks by December for the Economic and Technology Co-operation Agreement (ETCA).an official of the commerce ministry was quoted by an Indian wire agency.

Ten rounds of talks have taken place between the representatives of the two countries amidst stiff opposition from the island nation for including services sector under the scope of the agreement. A number of Sri Lankan trade unions have opposed the inclusion of service sector apprehending that the strong Indian industry would take control of the service sector in the island.

Both the countries already have a free trade agreement (FTAs) in goods, but now the talks are on to widen the scope of this pact by including services and investments to make it comprehensive.

India and Sri Lanka have a free trade agreement in goods implemented in March 2000. India has a healthy trade surplus in goods with Sri Lanka. India exported goods worth 4.5 billion US Dollars in 2017-18 and its imports from that country were only 773 million US Dollars.

Sri Lanka is Indiaís major trading partner in South Asia. In 2003, both sides set up a joint study group to widen the ambit of the FTA. Based on its recommendations, they started negotiations for a comprehensive economic partnership agreement in February 2005.


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