No partnership between India and Sri Lanka is as strong as the historic Indo-Lanka trade pact inked way back in 1998.
“Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement was the most significant Indo-Sri Lanka partnership we have realised on the commercial front,” said Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen in Chennai.
Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the inaugural event of the UEF Trade Summit 2017 at the Chennai Trade Centre, Tamil Nadu on November 18th. The event, the second edition in the series organized by the United Economic Forum was unveiled by the Minister for Finance of Government of Jammu and Kashmir Haseeb A. Drabu. UEF is currently led by Ahmed A.R.Buhari Founder President and CEO of Dubai based Coal and Oil Group (C&O).
“The most significant Indo Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) played a crucial role in shaping Sri Lanka’s subsequent economic integration with other countries in the region,” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “We signed it in 1998.
Undoubtedly this was the most significant Indo-Sri Lanka partnership we have realised on the commercial front. I am sure that the ISFTA played a crucial role as a catalyst that shaped our subsequent economic integration that the other countries in the region. With the ISFTA becoming operational in year 2000, the value of Indo-Lanka bilateral trade has increased in an unprecedented manner from US$ 650 million in 2000, to close to US$ 5 billion in 2016.”
In 2016, Lankan exports to India totaled US$ 551.2 million of which 68 percent (US$ 375.2 million) were exports under ISFTA. Sri Lanka’s top five exports -both under ISFTA and out of it-to India last year were pepper, animal feeds, nuts, paper/ paperboard and ships and vessels. Total bilateral trade for last year was US$ 4.37 billion while from January-August this year it reported US$ 3.26 billion. Sri Lanka’s leading import item from India (for the past 5 years) has been petroleum oil.
Indian Industry and Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu stressed the importance of collaboration in national policy formulation. “We must think about policies in a very comprehensive manner and that means a lot of stakeholders need to be consulted,” noted Minister Prabhu, and added: “That means the government cannot just frame the policies within the four walls of a ministry.”
The first ever UEF Summit was held in 2015 in Chennai. Among those who addressed Chennai’s UEF 2017 was Panneerselvam, the Deputy Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu government, who said that the TN’s new industrial policy launched in 2014 is now being reworked.
The United Economic Forum, a Chamber of Commerce was founded by Alhaj Dr B.S. Abdur Rahman, a visionary and an educationist, aims to develop entrepreneurs, offering them the latest in training, technology as well as access to emerging opportunities, innovations, rising markets, government concessions and facilitating project finance including Shariah-compliant funds.