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26 February, 2016 09:00 AM Source: Financial Times - Sri Lanka
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Breaking its silence, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce yesterday welcomed the proposed Indo-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) but urged authorities to ensure “systematic consultation” with the private sector to achieve desired benefits in national economic interests.

Following is the full text of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce statement:

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce has consistently supported the expansion of Sri Lanka’s trade interests through signing mutually beneficial and well-designed trade agreements, and this has been clearly articulated in our ‘10 Principles’ on the economy. The Chamber believes that such agreements are an important tool in deepening trade and investment opportunities for our businesses, within a rules-based framework. hamper-The-Ceylon-Chamber-of-Commerce

The Ceylon Chamber welcomes the Prime Minister’s statement in Parliament this week explaining the Government of Sri Lanka’s stance on the proposed Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) with India. This statement can help allay misperceptions around the proposed ETCA. The Chamber now urges the authorities involved in the ETCA process to build on this by adopting a systematic consultative and information sharing process with the private sector.

Any bilateral or regional agreement that Sri Lanka forges must be supportive of the country’s holistic economic interests (rather than cater to individual business interests); must recognise size asymmetry of the economy; and must take a phased approach to liberalisation where domestic regulatory systems need updating (for instance, on movement of natural persons in professional services).

Dialogue and information: An important element in the overall process of forging new agreements is transparent, systematic, and broad-based consultations with the private sector.dfh

The Chamber observed with concern the level of misinformed opposition proliferating in the media regarding the proposed ETCA, which can in part be attributed to the lack of robust information sharing and a systematic consultative process. We extend our support to the Government to help more stakeholders in the private sector understand the gains and challenges of such a bilateral agreement.

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