In a significant development that marks a milestone in Sri Lanka’s economic and technological journey, the 12th Round of Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) negotiations between Sri Lanka and India took place from October 30 to November 1, 2023 in Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s vision has always been to integrate with the largest economies in Asia and East Asia, emphasizing export diversification while maintaining and nurturing existing major export markets. The ultimate goal is to connect with key players through the global value chain to boost the country’s economy and improve the living standards of its people. The discussions during this round of negotiations hold immense promise. The visit of the President of Sri Lanka to New Delhi on July 29, 2023 set the stage for a renewed commitment to the ETCA, which had been on hold since 2018. Both the Heads of States, representing Sri Lanka and India, agreed to comprehensively enhance bilateral trade and investments, especially in new and priority areas. A delegation of 19 Indian officials, led by Shri Anant Swarup, Chief Negotiator and the Joint Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India, visited Sri Lanka.
They engaged in extensive discussions on this comprehensive Agreement. Representing Sri Lanka in these crucial negotiations was the National Trade Negotiating Committee (NTNC), headed by K.J. Weerasinghe, the Chief Negotiator from the Presidential Secretariat.
The Sri Lankan Negotiation Team included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security, Ministry of Industries, Department of Trade & Investment Policy, Attorney General’s Department, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Board of Investment, among others. The discussions during the 12th round covered a wide range of topics, including goods, services, rules of origin, trade remedies, customs procedures and trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures and legal and Institutional affairs. Additionally, a special session was dedicated to addressing implementation-related issues of the existing India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA).
This resumption of ETCA negotiations represents a significant step towards strengthening the economic partnership between Sri Lanka and India. It underlines the commitment of both nations to foster collaboration in various sectors, ultimately benefiting their economies and the well-being of their citizens.