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India, Sri Lanka to sign CEPA by year-end

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, May 9 (UNI) Buoyed by the successful Free-Trade Agreement (FTA), India and Sri Lanka will sign the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) by the end of this year and officials of both countries will meet in the near future to expedite the process.

Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Mangala Samaraweera, wrapping up his three-day official visit to India this evening, said at a press conference that the two countries were seeking to build on the FTA by addressing through a CEPA the more ambitious goal of liberalising bilateral trade in services.

''We are seeking to build on the FTA by addressing through a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement or CEPA the more ambitious goal of also liberalising our bilateral trade in services...We emphasised as well our satisfaction at the good progress in the CEPA negotiations...The agreement could be finalised and signed well within the course of this year.

In fact we agreed on a meeting of senior officials in the very near future to expedite the process,'' he added.

He, however, said there were some ''implementational issues'' arising from the FTA and expressed his government's firm commitment to equitable resolution of these issues.

Mr Samaraweera, who held discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other Indian leaders during the past two days on the latest situation in Sri Lanka and ''a broad spectrum of issues,'' said the two-way trade was two billion US Dollars last year and was ever growing.

During the past two days, the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister also met Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, Ministers of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma and E Ahamed, former External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh, ICCR president Karan Singh, CPM leader Prakash Karat and BJP leader Sushma Swaraj.

He also met National Security Advisor (NSA) M K Narayanan and Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.

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