Press Information Bureau, Government of India
5 July 2006
Imports under FTA should not hurt domestic industry, but should be a win-win for both sides, says Kamal Nath
Sri Lankan Trade Minister calls on Commerce & Industry Minister
Shri Kamal Nath, Union Minister of Commerce & Industry, has said that imports under the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) should not adversely affect the domestic industry. Rather, such an engagement should be a win-win situation bringing economic benefits to both sides. The Minister said this in the context of vanaspati imports under the Indo-Sri Lanka FTA, when the issue was raised by Mr. Jayaraj Fernandopulle, Minister for Trade, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Highways, who called on him here last evening.
Vanaspati accounts for more than 40% of total imports coming from Sri Lanka and it has been canalised through NAFED earlier this year. Voluntary export restraint (VER) limiting export of duty-free vanaspati from Sri Lanka to 2.5 lakh metric tonnes per annum has also been under negotiation. The Sri Lankan Minister urged rescinding of canalisation. The Indian side noted the concern of Sri Lanka and said it would look into the matter in consultation with the domestic industry. Shri Kamal Nath also took the opportunity to convey India’s concern regarding import of pepper and marble and underlined the need to avert switch trade.
Both sides noted the benefits from the FTA and in particular, the fact that trade between India and Sri Lanka not only crossed the US $ 2 billion mark in 2005 but had almost quadrupled in the last 6 years, largely as a result of the FTA.