Indian delegation to visit Colombo

ETCAA delegation of officials from India will visit Colombo on March 4 to hold talks with Sri Lankan officials regarding the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA), Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe told Parliament on Tuesday.

During the discussion, the two countries would exchange their draft, and Parliament and all parties would be taken into confidence before finalising the agreement, the Prime Minister said.

Assuring the House that his government would be transparent on the proposed pact, Mr. Wickremesinghe said unlike in the now-aborted Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), there would not be any provision in the ETCA for movement of natural persons [also known as Mode 4].

In the event of any shortage of professionals in Sri Lanka, the proposed agreement would be amended after consulting stakeholders concerned.

The new pact would cover areas such as financial services, promotion of trade and investment, e-commerce and tourism.

Explaining the rationale behind the pact, the Prime Minister said: “We cannot capture the world market on our own. We need support [from other countries].”

He reiterated that the ETCA would be beneficial to the country and none in Sri Lanka would be “adversely affected”. The proposed pact would pave the way for generation of employment opportunities and investment, he added. Later, when members of the Opposition raised questions why an Indian firm was roped in for implementing the Emergency Ambulance Health Protection Service [a variant of the 108 Emergency Response Services], Mr. Wickremesinghe challenged them to cite an example of one local service provider and he said he was willing to assign one province to any such agency. (The Hindu)

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