The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has called for more transparency over a new economic pact with India, attributing “misinformed opposition” to free trade to lack of consultation that could stymie potential gains to consumers and firms in Sri Lanka.
The island’s top business chamber said in a statement that it welcomes the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India and suggested the government publish a ‘White Paper’ on the deal.

The chamber also urged India to act quickly to clear existing trade barriers faced by Sri Lankan businesses in the subcontinent in order to build confidence over the new economic pact.
“An important element in the overall process of forging new agreements is transparent, systematic, and broad-based consultations with the private sector,” the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce said.

“Any bilateral or regional agreement that Sri Lanka forges must be supportive of the country’s holistic economic interests (rather than cater to individual business interests); must recognise size asymmetry of the economy; and must take a phased approach to liberalisation where domestic regulatory systems need updating (for instance, on movement of natural persons in professional services).”

The chamber said many of its members “produce world-class products and services, are winning in competitive market niches abroad, and have high quality management practices, and environmental and labour credentials.”

Opening up to the world would only “sharpen these competencies, and also provide new channels for the best firms to make a stronger mark overseas,” it said.