Sri Lanka exports to India drops for the first time on trade wars

Feb 19 (LBO) – For the first time in a decade, Sri Lanka’s exports to India dropped last year, following trade disputes over the island’s duty free access into India for vegetable oil, spices and copper. Sri Lanka and India have duty free or preferential access into each other’s markets for over 4000 goods, under the Indo-Lanka Free Trade deal, in effect since 2000.

The trade deal spurred exports between the countries, with over two billion dollars in bilateral trade, but only a few products have dominated Sri Lanka’s exports.

Sri Lanka’s exports to India dipped to 50.8 billion rupees last year from 56.2 billion rupees in 2005, with a drop in the island’s few top exports.

For the first time there was a drop in exports to India last year due to problems with vanaspati and even copper exports, Subhashini Abeysinghe, Economist at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce trade cell, told a seminar on Thursday.

Vanaspati, a vegetable oil popularly used for cooking in India, made up 22 percent of exports, still heading the list though down from 26 percent the year before.

India had accused local exporter