ETCA panic unfounded: Sujeewa Senasinghe

Sujeewa Senasinghe

The proposed Economic & Technical Agreement (ETCA) with India needs to be viewed beyond the vilifying exaggerations made against it for quick political mileage-and contrary to the general perception, ETCA is not the umbrella agreement that decimates almost all services and professions in Sri Lanka, said State Minister of International Trade Sujeewa Senasinghe on 29 February.

State Minister Senasinghe was delivering the concluding remarks of the eighth Exporters Forum by Sri Lanka’s apex exports facilitator EDB on 29 February. The Forum, presided by Minister Senasinghe, is a multi-stakeholder platform conducted by Sri Lanka’s apex exports facilitator EDB to speedily resolve issues faced by exporters.

No less than 37 firms took part with 55 listed issues for discussion at the eighth Exporters Forum.

“The Proposed Economic & Technical Agreement (ETCA) with India needs to be viewed beyond the vilifying exaggerations made against it. These allegations are made for quick political mileage. ETCA is portrayed as an agreement that would swallow professions and services of Sri Lanka. In fact, the services it covers are highly specialized and of niche in nature – under-sea welding of ships and vessels, for example” said Minister Senasinghe and added: “This Forum is a sign of our continuous efforts to help the committed Sri Lankan exporters.”

Interestingly, as for 29 February 8th Forum, three issues forwarded by exporters have already been solved even before the Forum opened.

Another novel feature is that Trade Agreements related issues are being taken up for the first time in addition to the usual sector related and inland-revenue related issues.

55 new exporter issues from 37 firms are discussed at the 29 February Forum and 50 were resolved. These issues are equally spread between agro and fishery as well as Industry and service sectors.

Yet another interesting feature seen was the Honorary Consul for Belgium in Sri Lanka and a founder member of Building a Future Foundation (BAFF) Pierre Pringiers voicing his constructive proposals to develop the Sri Lankan boat exports-especially the leisure and luxury boats. “Since some of the boats produced are sold to Lankan tourism industry, they need to be considered as an export and should be given certain concessions.

This will greatly help this promising export sector” Pringiers said. At the previous 7th Forum concluded last November, 72 issues were taken up and 47 were resolved. Several policy related issues of seventh Forum are now being attended to by EDB. EDB officials said that there has been significant progress in VAT and Quartz related issues that were raised in the seventh Forum in November. (Media Release)