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24 February, 2016 09:07 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka
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Aiming to allay fears about economic agreements Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday reassured parliament of transparency and insisted the Government would go ahead with plans to establish trade agreements with U.S, China, Pakistan, Turkey, Singapore, and several East Asian countries among others.  

He also stated the controversial Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) would be tabled in parliament where it will be openly debated. But the Prime Minister insisted discussions would continue with a special Indian delegation arriving on 4 March and the agreement would be signed by mid-2016. 1

Drawing comparisons Wickremesinghe pointed out the majority of industries had managed to weather open economic policies and would do so again when Sri Lanka completed the fresh host of economic reforms needed to create one million new jobs. The Government is also on the verge of obtaining  a new economic plan from Harvard intellectuals to map out future economic prospects.

The GSP+ trade facility would reopen the lucrative European market to Sri Lankan exports, the Prime Minister insisted.

“We should not fear the rest of the world. The public gave us a mandate to develop Sri Lanka and no one can stop us carrying out what is best for the country. We must learn to face the challenges of the world economy. I reiterate these agreements are for the development of this country,” he told lawmakers. 

Slamming the detractors of ETCA Wickremesinghe questioned as to why there were protests when no element of the agreement has yet been finalised.

He also insisted the relevant ministers would seek the views of parliament parties when formulating the framework for ETCA. “Genuine patriots would present progressive ideas for this proposal. Instead various organisations and individuals are spreading misinformation, hatred and myths about ETCA to derail the agreement. I have explained this numerous times to various stakeholders but they continue to make this an issue. I will do so once again. However at no point will we let these detractors win,” he stressed. 

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