The government imposed a high import tariffs on automobiles only to strike a balance of trade with Sri Lanka's neighbour, Senior Minister for International Monetary Cooperation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, Sarath Amunugama said.
"The hike in import tariff is not directed to Indian products. We have a balance of payment problem because our income from exports was not enough, Minister Amunugama told PTI.
About three times of income from exports was going out for particularly oil and debt repayment , he added.
Asked if Sri Lanka was willing to consider to lower the import tariff, the Minister said: "We can't afford it at the present moment but eventually we will... The need really is to improve our exports and India can help by buying more Sri Lankan products then there will be a balance in the trade."
Minister Amunugama said: "It so happened that many of the low-end vehicles, cheaper vehicles were being manufactured in India but those are the popular ones, so a large outflow of foreign exchange as a result.
"So what we are trying to do is, till we stabilise the situation, we have to put these taxes to prevent the outflow of foreign exchange. Once we are more stable, I think we can take another look at this," he added.