Waiting Game

Sri Lanka and India said Friday that they had agreed to ink a new economic pact aimed at boosting free trade by end 2005, one-year later than originally planned. Sri Lanka and India said Friday that they had agreed to ink a new economic pact aimed at boosting free trade by end 2005, one-year later than originally planned. The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA, aims to upgrade a free trade pact signed in December 1998.

Since the trade partnership was established, bilateral trade between both countries topped US$ 1.8 billion in 2004, with the trade imbalance ‘narrowing significantly’, President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s office said in a statement at the conclusion of her two-day visit to India on Friday.

“The two leaders directed that the negotiations on the CEPA be concluded by the end of 2005 so as to give a new thrust to overall bilateral business activity as well as to encourage investments in several areas of mutual interest and thereby strengthen the partnership in economic development between the two countries,” the statement said.

Despite being a victim of the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami, the Indian government has given Sri Lanka a