Tie-breaker

August 03, 2006 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and India made a breakthrough in crisis talks held this week to resume duty free exports of vanaspati oil to India.

The new terms will have to be approved by Sri Lanka™s Cabinet, but the commerce ministry is in agreement, Ratnayake says, adding that the terms are reasonable.

Sri Lanka will also set up a Vanaspati Quota Board to distribute the new quantities among local manufacturers, based on criteria being drawn up, such as investment size.

Vanaspati is a hydrogenated vegetable oil made from palm oil extracts and bakery shortenings is a similar product. Both are used for cooking in India.

India is currently Sri Lanka’s third largest export market, with just under two billion dollars in bilateral trade.

“We held discussions with the Indian Commerce Secretary and India agreed to allow 250,000 metric tonnes a year of vanaspati, bakery shortenings and margarine duty free, but subject to certain conditions,” R M K Ratnayake, secretary to Sri Lanka’s commerce ministry, told LBO on Thursday.

Those conditions include restrictions on also controversial exports of pepper and desicca