India asks Sri Lanka to speed to trade deal talks

August 03, 2007 (LBO) – India has called on Sri Lanka to ‘speed up’ talks on the enhanced free trade pact between the two countries during talks with a delegation from the island seeking more Indian investments. Indian Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh said the two countries should seek to sign the bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), an improved version of the existing free trade deal, by October.

“Both India and Sri Lanka can thrash out the differences and early conclusion of the CEPA would ensure the sustained interest of all the stake holders,” Ramesh was quoted as saying in a statement during talks with Sri Lankan Minister for Investment Promotion Navin Dissanayake in New Delhi on Thursday.

Indian Oil Corp’s Sri Lanka unit is also looking at setting up an oil refinery as well as expanding its network of retail outlets in Sri Lanka, it said.

Ramesh impressed upon the Sri Lankan Minister the need to speed up the negotiations on the CEPA so that both sides could sign the agreement by October this year, it said.

Dissanayake had expressed keen interest on inviting Indian investments in several areas including oil exploration and refining, information tech