Sri Lanka main opposition says ‘not opposing’ India trade deal

June 15, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s main opposition United National Party is not opposing an enhanced trade liberalization deal with India, but wants transparency and a parliamentary debate to clear doubts, a lawmaker said.

The CEPA deal hopes to build on a 10-year-old existing India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

Over the last decade trade between the two countries has grown from 600 million US dollars to 3.0 billion and analysts say exports from Sri Lanka to India have grown at double the pace of imports from Sri Lanka.

Under the existing deal Sri Lanka has put 1,180 items on a ‘negative list’ which do not get any concessions. In return India has opened 4,383 items including 233 garment items to zero duty. Only 196 items attracted normal customs duty.

The CEPA proposes to open some service sectors to the people and also clear up problems found with the existing deal, including the setting up of a dispute resolution mechanism.

“It is the UNP that the started the CEPA process,” says de Silva. “It is the UNP that started negotiation not just with India, but also the US and Singapore for a trade agreement and the EUs GSP plus was also started by us.”

The GSP plus gives access to Sri Lankan expo