The Ceylon National Chamber of Industries (CNCI) in a statement released last week expressed concerns over the proposed ETCA Agreement to be signed with India in mid this year. CNCI said it believes that the Sri Lankan positive list of India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) that consists more than 4000 items should be reviewed and should include only the right items which could be offered by the Sri Lankan businessmen to India.

“CNCI is of the opinion that rectifying the Non-Tariff Barriers and other issues pertaining to the existing FTA with India means more to us. It will bring the understanding of both countries, specially, government officials thinking pattern to an equal sequence.  The ISFTA is a good indicator to understand the success rate of agreements with India and its benefits to Sri Lanka,” the statement noted.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka exports to India only constitutes around 4% of the items that are included in the positive list consisting more than 4000 items, the Chamber cited an example where although Sri Lanka being the largest manufacturer of Solid Tyres in the world having 25% of the world market share, this product was however in the negative list of ISFTA.

“It is also pertinent to mention that Sri Lanka does not have any comprehensive regulatory mechanism with regard to the areas of Trade, Investments and Services. Our planners and senior officers in ministries have to focus on reviewing the regulatory laws if we need to benefit through similar agreements. Therefore, focusing on the local laws and strengthening those before signing any economic partnership or co-operation agreements with any country, it is an important aspect of such agendas. The lethargy prevails in some government sectors and shifting its responsibility to others in crucial events shows that agreements similar to ETCA will also go towards one direction leaving the interest of Sri Lankans,” the statement further charged.