Pact is safe - Indian High Commissioner

[TamilNet, Friday, 08 January 1999, 19:17 GMT]
Mr.Shiv Shankar Menon, India's High Commissioner for Sri Lanka, addressing the National Chamber of Commerce yesterday said that the Indo Lankan trade agreement has to be implemented to see whether the fear that it might be harmful to Sri Lanka is justified.

He said that India has trade agreements with Nepal and Bhutan but that market opportunities in Sri Lanka are greater.

chandrika_vajpayee.jpg
Sri Lankan President Chandrika Kumaratunga (L) is greeted by Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as Indian first lady Usha Narayanan looks on during the welcome ceremony in New Delhi, December 28, 1998. -Reuters
Menon said that Sri Lanka has a market open in India that is worth 40 billion rupees and that his government has already lowered tariff on 1000 goods.

He said the tariff on 300 other goods will be completely removed soon and that only 500 items out of 5500 have been included in the negative list, meaning that they will not be subject to any tariff reduction or removal.

Tariffs will be lowered under the trade agreement by Delhi on the remaining goods exported to India from SL during the next three years. Colombo has been granted eight years according to the terms of the agreement to lower tariffs on goods exported to SL from India.

The Indo-Lanka trade agreement that was concluded hastily by the Sri Lankan President during her visit to Delhi has been condemned by sections of the local industrialists and business houses as a sell out which could debilitate the Sri Lankan economy and its manufacturing base.

The High Commissioner's remarks were seen by some analysts as a damage control exercise.


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