Sri Lanka PM Wickremesinghe bats for greater trade ties with south Indian states

Sri Lankan PM Wickremesinghe

COLOMBO (TIP): Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe called for deeper economic engagement with India and proposed stronger trade and economic linkages with south Indian states.

“There can be diverse economic models around India. India is a regional power. We have much in common with south Indian states. We are looking at bilateral agreements with deeper integration and carving special trade areas with southern states of India,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s India economic summit on Thursday.

He said his country was forging stronger economic ties with Singapore and proposed a trilateral arrangement with India to boost trade.

Wickremesinghe said as far as Saarc was concerned, the level of economic activity was low and there was virtually no integration in the south Asian subcontinent. “Sri Lanka is pursuing a bilateral approach to forge greater trade and economic ties,” he added.

Wickremesinghe also complimented PM Modi for the “restrained and far sighted leadership” in the wake of tension between India and Pakistan.Earlier, in his address at the summit, he said Sri Lanka and India were working to expand the India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement to include services and investment as well. ” The Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement, which has been under negotiation between the two countries, should be concluded by the end of the year,” he added.

Wickremesinghe said as these agreements come into force, India would have access to not just the Sri Lankan market but also to markets in Singapore, Japan and China among others as the island nation was in the process of negotiating free trade pacts with several countries. He also invited Indian companies to invest in Sri Lanka, especially in areas such as infrastructure. (PTI)

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