India-Sri Lanka CEPA to be signed during SAARC

July 9th, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

By P. Karunakharan
Colombo, July 9 (IANS) India is set to sign the long-awaited Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with Sri Lanka on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in Colombo early next month, it was announced Wednesday. “We hope to have the CEPA signed on the sidelines of SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Corporation) summit opening Aug 1. This is India’s first agreement within SAARC member countries,” Gopal K. Pillai, secretary in the Indian ministry of commerce and industry, told Indian reporters here.

Pillai held talks with Sri Lankan Minister of Investment Promotion G.L. Peiris and virtually finalised the deal. This would be “the second such agreement by India next to Singapore signed in 2005″, he said.

“It is a good overall agreement in line with our engagement with the neighbouring countries. It will be fully operational in three years,” said Pillai.

He added that CEPA covers trade in the areas of goods, services, education and custom corporations.

India signed the Free Trade Agreement with Sri Lanka in 1999. As a result Sri Lanka’s volume of trade with India increased from $49 million to $516 million. India’s trade volume with Sri Lanka increased from $549 million to $2.7 billion between 1999 and 2007.

“FTA is a win-win situation to both countries. We are really looking at increasing Sri Lanka’s trade volume to 1.5 billion dollars by 2012,” added Pillai.

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