Sri Lanka supports Indian Ocean free trade

July 01, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has welcomed the initiatives taken to promote trade and investment among member states of an Indian Ocean regional grouping, the foreign affairs ministry said in a statement. He also welcomed the initiatives taken by IOR-ARC to promote investment, including the work done towards the implementation of an agreement to promote and protect investment in the region.

He said efforts to reach harmonisation of standards customs regulations and quarantine requirements were “welcome first steps in intra-regional trade facilitation”.

IOR-ARC is a grouping of Indian Ocean Rim countries launched in 1997 to promote economic cooperation.

It has a membership of 18 countries including Sri Lanka. It was issued after a council of ministers of member state of the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC) in Sana’a, Yemen.

Sri Lankan Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Hussain Bhaila who led the Sri Lanka delegation to the conference called for a Preferential Trade Arrangement in the IOR-ARC.

This could be an instrument to foster and enhance the promotion of trade flows in the region by removing impediments, he said.

However, he cautioned