India-Lanka JTF gathers speed
As trade 2012 numbers started to show trade favouring Sri Lanka, in another latest signs of India-Sri Lanka trade acceleration, both countries are re-joining to move the Joint Task Force forward, with greater speed. And private sectors at both ends are being positioned to take the lead.
“2012 was a milestone year in our bilateral trade history giving birth to the Joint Task Force. The up-trend has already started with our exports to India rising by 12% in 2012” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 21 January.
• Special Indian trade delegation arrives in town
• Private Sector at both ends now in front-lines
• Exports to India up by 12%, India’s exports to SL fall by 24%
• “JTF progress good”-Well Connected Indian Minister Dr Purandeswari
• Bilateral trade tops $ 4 Bn
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the Indian trade delegation led by Dr Mrs Daggubati Purandeswari, Indian Minister of State of Commerce, Industry & Textiles on 21 January at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo. The Politically well-connected Dr Purandeswari joined politics in 2004 and is the daughter of N. T. Rama Rao, the three times former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (who was also the founder of Telugu Desam Party). The only and immediate official rank above Dr Purandeswari is Anand Sharma, Indian Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles. Accompanying Dr Mrs Purandeswari were JS Deepak (Additional Secretary of Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry), Mrs Vandana Yadev (Director, Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry), HE P Kumaran (Acting Indian High Commissioner in Colombo) and M Manish (Economic and Commercial Counsellor at the Indian High Commission in Colombo). Accompanying Minister Bathiudeen were Anura Siriwardene (Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce), Asoka Godawita (Deputy Director of Commerce), and DD Premaratne (Director, Department of Commerce).
“We have been looking forward for this meeting for a long time” Dr Purandeswari said, addressing Minister Bathiudeen. “Our bilateral trade cooperation could be taken forward not only in terms of state to state level, but on public private partnership levels as well. Future trade and investment initiatives we envisage can take India’s trade and investments in Sri Lanka to new levels” she added and stressed: “After the Indo Lanka CEO Forum and JTF process, our Commerce Secretary is now aware of the issues faced by exporters of Sri Lanka and we think we should iron out these issues for faster JTF and also bilateral trade goal of $ 10 Bn by 2015.”
The first Sri Lanka-India CEOs Forum was held in August 2012 and was organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), with the participation of a large number of CEOs from both Sri Lanka and India.
“We are happy to note that you have realised our concerns. We also of the belief that we need to move beyond from ‘state-to-state only trade’ to more and more private sector involvement in developing trade” Minister Bathiudeen said, and added: “Public Private sector partnership is also very important towards moving $ 10 B trade by 2015.”
Both Ministers also stressed the need more frequent trade meetings between Commerce Ministry officials of both sides and also discussed other recent developments in bilateral trade and commerce, among others.
India, which ranked as the 16th largest export destination of Sri Lanka in 2000, emerged as the fourth largest buyer of Lankan exports in 2011 absorbing 5.1% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to the world, after USA, UK and Italy, spurred by the implementation of India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) in 2000.According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, total bilateral trade between the two countries in 2012 was $ 4.08 Bn.
In 2012, bilateral trade numbers have shown a trend favourable to Sri Lanka-in that, Sri Lanka’s exports to India has increased to $ 566.37 Mn in 2012 from $ 521.61 Mn (2011) while Indian exports to Sri Lanka has registered a decrease to $ 3.51 Bn in 2012 from $ 4.35 Bn in 2011.
- Asian Tribune -