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Indo-Lanka trade agreement talks likely in March

(Xinhua)

09:04, January 17, 2012

COLOMBO, Jan.16 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka will re-start discussions of a crucial trade agreement with India in March on the sidelines of the island nation's largest export extravaganza, the Industry and Commerce Ministry said in a statement released Monday.

India's Minister of Commerce,Industry and Textiles Anand Sharma will discuss CEPA when he lead a delegation to attend the March extravaganza,the statement said.

The two countries have been discussing the details of a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) for over five years but protests from local businesses have delayed its signing.

Sri Lankan entrepreneurs have voiced concerns over products from their larger neighbor flooding the market and creating a lopsided trading field. India dismissed the worries as unnecessary.

The signing of Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement in 1998, the first in the region, marked a milestone in the trade relations between the two nations. Since then two-way trade value had grown from about 650 million U.S. dollars in 2000 to well over 3 billion dollars in 2010.

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