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CEPA between India, Sri Lankan no threat to island nation

Economic Times, India

CEPA between India, Sri Lankan no threat to island nation

3 July 2008

PTI/COLOMBO: A leading Sri Lankan trade body has allayed fears that Indians would take over the jobs on offer in the island nation following the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between India and Sri Lanka.

Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) President Nawaz Rajabdeen said that signing the CEPA could be considered a graduation from the FTA with Sri Lanka standing to gain more than India.

He, however, said some short comings that existed in the FTA with India would be corrected before signing the CEPA.

The chamber President said the salary structure in Sri Lanka hardly made it attractive for the Indian job seekers to come to the island country and that they had several offers in Europe and other rich countries.

"There is no need to apprehend that Indians will come to Sri Lanka in search of jobs under the agreement to open the services sector under CEPA," Rajabdeen said.

Stating that the Marxist JVP party had no basis for apprehension on opening of the services sector under CEPA with India, the President of the Chambers said the task of handling business should be left to the businessmen.

"When the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) was signed in 1998 everybody said that India was a giant and that Sri Lanka would end up as a dumping ground for Indian goods," he told reporters.

He pointed out that after the FTA was implemented in 2000, exports to India had grown 10 times over within four years.

He said the private sector will have a major role to play after the implementation of the CEPA between Sri Lanka and India.