Indians may get freer access to Sri Lanka pepper soon

July 18, 2012 (LBO) – Indian citizens may get freer access to buy Sri Lankan pepper with the prospects of a volume ceiling on trade between the countries being relaxed soon according to a statement made by India’s envoy to Colombo. Rent-seeking Sri Lankan producers were allowed by authorities to have a large negative list of 1,198 items on where they were able to block trade freedoms of citizens, hurting the poorest Sri Lankans most.

Thought the Indian negative list was small, her citizens continued to be shackled by non-tariff barriers, Sri Lankan exporters have said.

Indian bureaucrats however were able to give greater freedom to Indian citizens. Indian producers were only allowed to have a negative list of only 196 items.

Nationalist Sri Lankan producers have blocked the signing of an Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between the two countries, which has been in negotiation for nearly five years.

Sri Lanka is not exporting pepper to India under a free trade agreement because a volume ceiling of 2,600 tonnes had been placed.

“It is under control and will be taken care of before too long,” India’s high commissioner to Colombo Ashok Kantha told members of the Indo Lanka Chamber of Commerce.