|Visit of Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles of India, Anand Sharma to Sri Lanka 2-5 August 2012|
|Thursday, 16 August 2012 09:23|
The Minister of Commerce, Industry and Textiles of India, Anand Sharma, visited Sri Lanka from 2-5 August accompanied by high-level business persons from India representing the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI).
Minister Anand Sharma’s visit coincided with the ‘India Show - Land of Limitless Opportunities’ held in Colombo from 3-5 August, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in partnership with the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce. The visiting Indian Minister was joined by Sri Lanka’s Minister of Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa, Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen, and Senior Minister of International Monetary Cooperation Sarath Amunugama, in inaugurating the ‘India Show’.
The inaugural meeting of the ‘India-Sri Lanka CEOs Forum’ that was formed based on a decision taken by President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during President Rajapaksa’s State Visit to India in June 2010, was held on 4 August during Minister Sharma’s visit. The delegations from India and Sri Lanka to the CEOs Forum were led by the Chairman & Managing Director of Bharti Airtel Ltd., Sunil Bharti and Managing Director of DSI Samson Group (Pvt) Ltd., Mr. Kulatunga Rajapakse, respectively.
The CEOs discussed a broad range of issues that concern India and Sri Lanka in the trade and investment spheres including tourism, energy, aviation, ports and shipping and the hospitality industry.
The Joint Press Release issued at the conclusion of the CEOs Forum is appended below.
(COLOMBO) Saturday, 4th August 2012
JOINT PRESS RELEASE
India Sri Lanka CEO’s Forum identifies potential areas for strengthening bilateral ties
The Sri Lanka- India CEO’s Forum organized by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) was held this morning with the participation of a large number of CEOs from both Sri Lanka and India. The Co-Chairs for the event were Mr. Kulatunga Rajapakse, Managing Director of DSI Samson Group (Pvt) Ltd from Sri Lanka and Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman & Managing Director of Bharti Airtel Ltd from India. The Forum was conceptualized at a meeting between H.E. the Prime Minister of India and H.E. the President of Sri Lanka.
Trade ties between Sri Lanka and India go back over 2500 years. India is fast becoming a global super power. The business community in India is the driving force behind this growth. Sri Lanka can reap benefits from the Indian growth story. Given the small size of the Sri Lankan market, it is important that Sri Lanka access the Indian market to increase its export and economic growth.
The trade balance between India and Sri Lanka at present is heavily in favour of India. Ways and means have to be identified to reduce this imbalance. The two Governments envisage doubling of trade between the two countries within the next three years. Sri Lanka would like to see obstacles to trade and investment removed to enable Sri Lankan businesses to penetrate into the Indian market. There are opportunities and partnerships to be forged for the mutual benefit of both countries.
Some of the potential sectors identified for increasing trade and investment between the two countries are apparel, rubber products, power and energy, tourism, education, skill development, ports and shipping and infrastructure in general.
In the apparel sector, with China becoming more expensive apparel sourcing destination, it was felt that there is immense opportunity for India and Sri Lanka to increase their market share in the world. Further there is scope for Sri Lanka to increase export of apparel to India with further relaxation of the rules of origin and quota for apparel that is currently in place under the ISFTA.
There is high demand for rubber based components in India and at present companies in India face high prices and shortages. Hence an area for both countries to explore the possibility of forging joint ventures in rubber product sector to supply rubber components to India.
The CEOs also discussed the potential of cross promotion of tourism between the two countries. It was also highlighted that air connectivity is crucial to promote tourism. Providing higher frequency of operation to Indian airlines to Sri Lanka will help improve air connectivity between the two countries.In addition to that there is potential to invest in hotels. Interest was expressed by Indian CEOs to invest in mid segment of hotels in Sri Lanka as opposed to luxury hotels. It was pointed out that further streamlining of investment procedures will help attract more investments. For example a suggestion made was to establish a land bank identifying land available for hotel construction in tourism zones.
Given that additional 35,000 hotel rooms are expected to be constructed in Sri Lanka in the next few years, there will be high demand for manpower in the tourism sector. This provides an opportunity forIndia to invest in hotel schools in Sri Lanka.
Given the rapidly growing demand for electricity in India, there is potential for Sri Lanka to export power to India during the off peak hours and vise versa and for Indians to invest in power generation in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has a potential in excess of 40,000 MW of wind energy. It would make sense to expedite the implementation of undersea transmission linkages so that surplus power can be exported to India and this will help in bridging the trade deficit between the two countries. Further to encourage investments in to wind power generation, it was pointed out that the wind resources availability in Sri Lanka should be identified and land earmarked for wind power projects. It is also necessary to have a policy and regulatory framework that enables big power projects to be done by private sector was highlighted. Further it was stated that Sri Lankans can invest in power generation in India and 100 percent foreign equity participation is allowed.
Sri Lanka currently faces shortage of skills in a number of sectors. Therefore it was agreed that internationally recognized Indian education institutes should be encouraged to set up branches in Sri Lanka. To encourage investments into the higher education sector Sri Lanka it is important to fast track setting up the right regulatory framework to facilitate such investments.
Further it was agreed that Colombo Port is crucial for India for its transshipment. Indian CEOs stated that the regulatory framework in Sri Lanka is more efficient than in India and the bureaucracy is more manageable compared to India. Therefore India should maximize benefits from the geographical locationaladvantage of Sri Lanka to access the rest of the world.
CEOs of both countries emphasized the importance of having a flexible visa regime between the two countries. It was specially pointed out that Sri Lanka should facilitate multiple entry visa for businesses from India without hassle and from Indian side the minimum salary requirement of India of US$ 25,000 needs to be relaxed for Sri Lanka.
The Commerce Ministers of both countries and the Senior Minister of Monetary Cooperation of Sri Lanka graced the occasion and agreed to support the initiatives that will be taken by the CEOs. The two Governments have already decided to establish a Joint Task Force to come up with a road map to further enhance economic cooperation between the two countries.