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Sri Lanka to participate in Indian summit following CII visit
21 Nov, 2012 07:22:19
Nov 21, 2012 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's economic development minister Basil Rajapaksa will lead a delegation to India's 'Partnership Summit' to be held in Agra in January, India's high commission (embassy) said after a business delegation visited the island.
A 13 member mission from the powerful Confederation of Indian Industry in a four day visit to Sri Lanka had met minister Rajapaksa, deputy finance minister Sarath Amunugama, finance secretary P B Jayasundera and trade and commerce secretary Anura Siriwardene.

The delegation had also met officials at the Board of Investment and chief executives of Indian companies based in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka's Ceylon Chamber of Commerce had organized a business-to-business meeting with the CII delegation.

Adi Godrej, President of CII and Chairman of India's Godrej Group had told minister Rajapaksa that Sri Lanka was a priority country for Indian Industry and conveyed the interest of Indian industry to invest and create capacity for export, the high commission statement said.

Indian owned firms such as Piramal Glass and CEAT tyres are already exporting from Sri Lanka.

The delegation were involved in consumer goods, information technology, automobiles, electronic and engineering products, air-conditioning and refrigeration, hydro power generation, wind energy, infrastructure and real estate.

Rahul Bajajf, Bajaj Auto Limited; Sudhir Deoras, TRF Limited, S Chandrasekhar, Bhoruka Power Corporation Ltd.; V. K. Mathews, IBS Software Services; Sunil Duggal, Dabur India Ltd.; Satish Jamdar, Blue Star Limited; Sunil Wadhwa, IL&FS Energy Development Company Ltd.; Shubh Shrivastava, The Tata Power Company Ltd.; Sangeeta Prasad, Mahindra World City, Sujith Haridas, were in the delegation.

Godrej had said that Indian companies could use to set up priority industries like pharmaceuticals, IT and tourism and hospitality based on the supportive policy by Sri Lanka's government.

CII was also prepared to partner with Sri Lankan instructions on capacity building and training and shares its experience in promoting rural entrepreneurship.

Godrej had renewed an offer to train 200 Sri Lankan students at Infosys training facilities at Mysore, and requested Sri Lanka's government to make use of the opportunity.

Minister Rajapaksa had accepted an invitation by the CII to lead a delegation to a 'Partnership Summit' to be held in Agra from 27-29 January, 2013, where a special session would be held for Sri Lanka.

"The Partnership Summit will provide opportunities to the government and businesses from Sri Lanka to showcase the trade & investment opportunities in Sri Lanka," the High Commission said.

Sri Lanka's Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and CII will launch a study to identify areas where the two sides could work together under an existing free trade deal.

"The CII business delegation argued for early conclusion of a comprehensive economic partnership agreement between India and Sri Lanka, to take the economic relationship to the next level," the embassy said.

Analysts say after gaining independence from the British, rulers of both India and Sri Lanka used police and customs powers inherited from European powers against their citizens to stifle free trade between them, in a bid to protect powerful production lobbies.

Citizens in search of better living standards then started to trade with freer countries as far away as North America instead of trading with each other.

Compared to countries in the Association of South East Asian Nations, where trade barriers are low and living standards high, South Asian citizens are still under the grip of politically powerful nationalist lobbies.

Analysts say in Sri Lanka in particular, political powerful production lobbies are again rearing their head and appropriating people's trade liberties. They have scuttled the expansion of an existing FTA to a comprehensive economic partnership agreement.

India has since been signing up economic partnerships with countries further afield including ASEAN.

The Indian High Commission said trade has expanded eight fold since 2000 from 658 million US dollars to 5.0 billion US dollars in 2011-12.

India has been among top two investors in Sri Lanka. In 2011 foreign direct investments from India was about 150 million US dollars, with the total since 2003 being 800 million US dollars.

ITC Ltd, Tata Housing, Shree Renuka Sugars, Dabur India Ltd were planning further investments.

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