ETCA proposal seeks Cabinet approval | Sunday Observer

ETCA proposal seeks Cabinet approval

Finalised proposals of the Joint Committee on Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between Sri Lanka and India are to be presented to the Cabinet of Ministers next week seeking approval to continue bilateral discussions, the Sunday Observer learns.

Secretary to the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade S.T. Kodikara told the Sunday Observer that the two countries have reached an understanding about the agreement. “We prepared the Cabinet paper after rounds of discussions with India. As originally planned, ETCA will be a trade agreement of goods and services between the two countries,” Kodikara said.

ETCA has been proposed as an extension to the existing free trade agreement between Sri Lanka and India as the two neighbouring countries have had their sights set on entering into a second trade pact since at least 2003 in what was then known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA. However, due to various reasons, including mounting pressure from Sri Lankan professionals, the signing of the second agreement was delayed for decades.

Soon after coming into power, the present government refuelled talks between the two countries with a new name, ETCA. Nonetheless, there has been much opposition unleashed against ETCA since 2015. “We have started a feasibility study on ETCA following government guidelines.

Simultaneously, we are enlightening all stakeholders about the trade agreement. We will finally decide upon entering into the agreement based on discussions with stakeholders,” the Secretary clarified. After the success of discussions so far, the Indian Trade Minister has received the green light from the Indian Cabinet to proceed with discussions with Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, another trade agreement is also in the pipeline between Sri Lanka and China. “We have held several discussions with China. We have informed the Trade Minister in China that we are ready to proceed with negotiations. We are now awaiting a reply,” Kodikara explained.

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