Sri Lanka pepper trade calls for end to Indian restrictions

July 28, 2008 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s pepper trade has demanded an end to import restrictions imposed by India that they say violates the spirit of a free trade accord between the two countries. The call was made by Gulam Chatoor, a former chairman of the Spices and Allied Products Association, on the eve of a south Asian summit to be attended by Indian prime minister Manmohan Singh to discuss better regional integration.

Chatoor said the time had come to lift the limits on Sri Lankan pepper exports now that both countries were planning to sign a new free trade and investment agreement to improve upon the existing Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

The proposed Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Sri Lanka was to have been signed during Singh’s visit to Colombo for the south Asian summit.

But the signing has now been put off following protests by Sri Lankan industrialists and professionals who say they fear the island being flooded by Indian products and professionals.

Sri Lankan pepper was freely imported into India under the free trade pact since 2003 with no quantitative restrictions until India imposed a limit of 2,500 tonnes in December