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Sri Lanka’s business sector discuss improving Indo-Lanka economic engagement

Sri Lanka’s business sector discuss improving Indo-Lanka economic engagement

Sri Lanka’s top businessmen have last week discussed with Indian External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar a number of proposals to improve Indo-Lanka economic engagement including the early resumption of tourism.
Dr. Jaishankar, during a three-day visit last week, had interacted with captains of Sri Lankan business and industry that represented prominent business conglomerates and manufacturing entities in the country, the Indian High Commission in Colombo has noted in a statement.
The invitees for the discussion with the Indian Minister were MAS Holdings Chairman Mahesh Amalean, John Keells Holdings Chairman and CEO Krishan Balendra, SLTDA Chairperson Kimarli Fernando, Indian CEO Forum President Umesh Gautam, Sunshine Holdings Group MD Vish Govindasamy, Brandix Lanka Group CEO Ashroff Omar, Hayleys Chairman Mohan Pandithage, and Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya.
The Indian High Commission has noted that there was a comprehensive exchange of views on a broad array of issues including the development of a stronger economic partnership between India and Sri Lanka, especially in context of jointly overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sri Lankan business leaders had reportedly appreciated bilateral initiatives aimed at reviving economic growth in Sri Lanka and had conveyed their desire to work closely for reinforcing India-Sri Lanka trade and business ties.
There had also been considerable interest regarding early-resumption of tourist travel from India and cooperation on vaccines for Covid-19.
External Affairs Minister had noted that the cessation of tourism had impacted nearly 15% of Sri Lanka’s population which has direct or indirect links with the tourism sector and had mentioned India’s successful ‘air-travel bubble’ arrangements with more than 20 countries, which had helped in partial restoration of travel and mitigated some of the difficulties faced by people and our economies.
Recalling that India was the largest source of tourists for Sri Lanka last year, Jaishankar had noted the potential for enhancing tourism between India and Sri Lanka in view of proximity and cultural similarities between the two countries.
“Certain other ideas put forward by business leaders included the establishment of a bilateral forum to discuss business-related issues, greater utilisation of the Indo-Sri Lanka free trade agreement and the possibility of an expanded FTA between the two sides, conclusion of a mutual recognition arrangement on standards, air-bubble arrangement for business travel, and the possibility of Indian investments in the socio-economic domain in Sri Lanka that would help in boosting local employment,” the statement has further noted.
The Indian Minister had also mentioned that India would like to expand its engagement with the Sri Lankan economy and referred to certain promising areas such as pharmaceuticals, IT, vocational training, skill development, among others, in this regard.

OSL take:

India and Sri Lanka enjoy strong bilateral and trade ties that has been further strengthened by a functional free trade agreement. Sri Lanka also enjoys preferential treatment when engaging in business/investment activities with India. Indian businesses/investors could therefore explore business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka. Also, foreign businesses/investors interested in doing business with India could explore possibilities of setting up base in Sri Lanka to engage with India utilising the preferential treatment enjoyed by Sri Lankan businesses.

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Article Code : VBS/AT/20210115/Z_1

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