Sri Lankan opposition against deal with India

Colombo, Feb 19 (IANS) Sri Lanka’s opposition on Friday said it has decided to oppose a proposed Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ECTA) with India.

A statement by the opposition, which includes some members of the political party headed by President Maithripala Sirisena, said an economic and technical pact with India will make sense if Sri Lanka can obtain some technical or economic input from New Delhi which Colombo cannot provide for itself, Xinhua reported.

However, the opposition said the present government seems to be intent on handing over to the Indians what can easily be done by locals.

The opposition said that before any new agreement is entered into, the shortcomings in the existing Free Trade Agreement with India should be ironed out and bureaucratic blocks that Sri Lankan exporters have experienced in India should be eliminated.

“In 2014, we imported $4,023 million worth of goods from India and exported goods worth only $625 million to India. After more than 15 years of FTA, Sri Lanka’s largest export item to India is areca nut,” the opposition said.

“If the FTA with India was working as it should, nobody would object to further expanding economic cooperation with our neighbour. Furthermore, we believe that a satisfactory solution to the Indian fishermen’s issue should be found before going on to other bilateral matters.”

The opposition called upon the Sri Lankan business community, professionals and the general public to oppose the “foreignisation” of the Sri Lankan economy by surreptitious means.

The opposition said it believed that any foreign investment in Sri Lanka should be channelled into areas that Colombo was unable to develop on its own.

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