May 24, 2010 (LBO) – Indian and Sri Lankan companies should consider joint ventures that could make use of resources in both countries under a free trade deal between the two neighbours, a senior official said. Sarath Amunugama, deputy minister of finance and planning, said the 10-year free trade agreement should be deepened and expanded with both countries pursuing economic reforms.
“In manufacturing we should go more for joint ventures,” he told a seminar held to review the free trade deal organised by the Institute of Policy Studies, a think tank, and see how it could be improved.
“We should think of a single integrated enterprise which works both in India and Sri Lanka.”
Amunugama said officials on both sides should broaden the discussions and go beyond talks on mere technicalities of tariff reductions.
Existing tariff concessions were also mostly for unprocessed primary agricultural produce.
“Although we’ve been exporting from time immemorial, there’s not a single plant which is value adding,” he said.
“We still send cloves and other spices in very primary form – pluck it off the tree, dry it, pack it and export.
“There’s hardly any value addition. These are questions th