Steady Growth

Chandi Dharmaratne

Sept 13 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and India are likely to clock in about three billion dollars in bilateral trade in the next year, despite some troubled investments, India™s finance minister Shri Chidambaram said Wednesday.

The two countries saw trade grow from 650 million dollars six years ago when the Indo-Lanka free trade deal was signed, to one billion dollars in 2002 and two billion dollars last year.

At the rate trade is growing between the countries, I am confident that the third billion will be crossed some time in the next calendar year, Chidambaram told businessmen and delegates in Colombo.

Some local investments have turned sour in recent times, with the government still disputing and delaying subsidy payments to Lanka Indian Oil Corporation for selling fuel at controlled prices.

Attempts by a local business tycoon to take over the local arm of Indian healthcare giant Apollo Hospitals, has also raised a diplomatic and investment row.

But this time, the government has sided with the Indian firm saying special concessions given by the Board of Investments would be withdrawn if Apollo loses control of the hospital.

On the issue of Apollo¦¦the government specifically, by name,