Promised Land

Nov 03 (LBO) – An Indo-Lanka economic partnership agreement to free up services like banking and insurance, professional services and aviation, has been delayed to early next year.

India and Sri Lanka have had about seven rounds of technical level talks on a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), since 2003.

The agreement hopes to deepen existing trade ties between the countries and more specifically, free up services, an area not covered under the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

The agreement was to have come into effect by end 2006, but has been pushed back by ongoing trade disputes as well as outstanding issues on rules of origin, customs procedures and mutual recognition of product standards.

There have been various difficulties and roadblocks to CEPA. Our original time target was September, but now hopefully if we speed things up, we can conclude it in the early part of 2007, R K Ratnayake, Secretary to Sri Lanka™s commerce ministry, told a joint meeting of the Sri Lanka-India Business Council on Friday.

An ongoing dispute between the countries on restricting Sri Lanka™s duty free exports of vanaspati vegetable oil from