Sri Lanka’s opposition strongly opposes new deal with India

COLOMBO, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) — Sri Lanka’s opposition on Friday said that it has decided to strongly 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 that an economic and technical pact with India will make sense if Sri Lanka can obtain from India some technical or economic input which Sri Lanka cannot provide for itself, such as in the automotive, chemical or pharmaceutical industries.

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

The opposition is of the view 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 USD worth of goods from India and exported goods worth only 625 million USD to India. After more than 15 years of the FTA, Sri Lanka’s largest export item to India is areca nut. If the FTA with India was working as it should, nobody would object to further expanding economic cooperation with our neighbor. 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 said.

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 says it believes that any foreign investments in Sri Lanka should be channelled into areas that Sri Lanka is unable to develop on its own.

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