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Ceylon Chamber hails trade document to be signed with India mid next year

20 November 2015 05:22 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Chandeepa Wettasinghe
The trade document which will be signed with India in mid-2016 will be a framework agreement to negotiate and eventually sign the Broader Economic and Technology Partnership, and the new regime is being transparent on trade negotiations, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) said.
“That document has been submitted to the industry, which is very good, and we’ve been having a series of discussions with the trade and the manufacturers have been involved,” CCC Import Section Immediate Past Chairman Kevin Edwards said at the Import Section’s 80th anniversary.
The government had earlier said that it would sign the Broader Economic and Technology Partnership agreement mid-2016, which had raised concerns over it not being well-negotiated.

However, CCC Chief Economist Anushka Wijesinghe said that the document signed next year would be a framework within which the Broader Economic and Technology Partnership will be negotiated and implemented in the future.
He said that the Broader Economic and Technology Partnership will have the chapters of trade in goods, services, investments, co-operation and dispute resolution chapters, similar to the controversial Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).

“But the starting points of these two agreements are not the same. The agreement to be signed now makes no commitments, and says the two governments will launch negotiations for a final agreement. Which sectors will be opened up has not yet been decided,” he said.
He noted that the framework has a section named ‘Early Harvest’ which will address the non-tariff barriers, mutual recognition standards, and other barriers which had made the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) impotent.
“There’s an entire section to deal with these issues on what’s called an Early Harvest, which basically says that lets solve some of the issues which have plagued the FTA so that confidence is built on this next round,” Wijesinghe said.

However, he noted that according to the framework, the Early Harvest is to be signed months after the framework is signed, and said that it would have been ideal to sign both the framework and the Early Harvest concurrently.
“This will give confidence to the private sector. We’re going to recommend that they sign it along with the framework agreement, as opposed to committing to an Early Harvest in the agreement and signing it after,” he said.
Wijesinghe said that the Industry and Commerce Ministry and the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry have invited comprehensive consultations from the private sector.

“On the positive, there’s a lot more consultation now, and CCC was invited to be a part of the 2nd meeting that happened last week. The ministries have for representation from all quarters of the private sector—the exporters and importers, consumer groups and professional bodies,” he said.
During the CEPA and the China FTA negotiations, the past regime had come under flak for not negotiating in a transparent manner. The final CEPA draft has not been made public to this day.
“On the other agreements, as far as we can tell, a similar approach will be adopted. So the Ceylon Chamber really welcomes the approach to involve the private sector more and we see that happening,” Wijensinghe said.
“But the starting points of these two agreements are not the same. The agreement to be signed now makes no commitments, and says the two governments will launch negotiations for a final agreement. Which sectors will be opened up has not yet been decided,” he said.
He noted that the framework has a section named ‘Early Harvest’ which will address the non-tariff barriers, mutual recognition standards, and other barriers which had made the Indo-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) impotent.
“There’s an entire section to deal with these issues on what’s called an Early Harvest, which basically says that lets solve some of the issues which have plagued the FTA so that confidence is built on this next round,” Wijesinghe said.
However, he noted that according to the framework, the Early Harvest is to be signed months after the framework is signed, and said that it would have been ideal to sign both the framework and the Early Harvest concurrently.
“This will give confidence to the private sector. We’re going to recommend that they sign it along with the framework agreement, as opposed to committing to an Early Harvest in the agreement and signing it after,” he said.
Wijesinghe said that the Industry and Commerce Ministry and the Development Strategies and International Trade Ministry have invited comprehensive consultations from the private sector.
“On the positive, there’s a lot more consultation now, and CCC was invited to be a part of the 2nd meeting that happened last week. The ministries have for representation from all quarters of the private sector—the exporters and importers, consumer groups and professional bodies,” he said.
During the CEPA and the China FTA negotiations, the past regime had come under flak for not negotiating in a transparent manner. The final CEPA draft has not been made public to this day.
“On the other agreements, as far as we can tell, a similar approach will be adopted. So the Ceylon Chamber really welcomes the approach to involve the private sector more and we see that happening,” Wijensinghe said.
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