Sri Lanka is keen to upgrade the existing free trade agreement with India to gain greater market access for goods such as textiles and automobiles parts and include services, particularly IT/ITES, said Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India, Milinda Moragoda.
As the Sri Lankan economy is preparing to move from stablisation to the revival stage, the country is looking at India for support through greater investments, trade and flow of tourists, said Maragoda at an interaction with the media, organised by the Indian Women’s Press Corps on Monday.
“We are grateful for the support provided by India to Sri Lanka so far. In the stabilisation phase, without India we would not have been able to last this long. In the revival phase, we are looking at more market access and investment from India,” said Moragoda, adding that the quickest way for the economy to bounce back would be through tourism.
Sri Lanka is going through its worst economic crisis with the government blaming the Covid pandemic, which badly affected Sri Lanka’s tourist trade, for battering its foreign exchange reserves. The country is expected to make a presentation to its international creditors this week giving details of plans for its debt restructuring and the multibillion-dollar IMF bailout.
Answering questions, the Sri Lanka High Commissioner said that India had not rejected any requests for additional credit made by his country and talks were on. India has committed more than $3 billion in loans, credit lines and credit swaps to Sri Lanka so far.
On the India-Sri Lanka FTA, Moragoda pointed out that his country’s President had recently expressed interest in upgradation of the FTA into a comprehensive economic and technological partnership and work was starting in the direction.
“We want to be part of India’s value chain in areas such as textiles and automobiles,” he said adding that the upgraded FTA could help in achieving that.
Moragoda pointed out that there was already a lot of collaboration happening in the area of IT with Indian majors such as HCL, Tata and Infosys expressing interest.