Bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka has shown signs of acceleration during 2012 with trade favoring Sri Lanka although Sri Lanka's exports to India accounted for only 14 percent of the US$ 4.08 billion trade.
Sri Lanka's exports to India have risen 12 percent during the year, Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiyutheen said.
"2012 was a milestone year in our bilateral trade history giving birth to the Joint Task Force. The up-trend has already started with our exports to India rising by 12% in 2012,"the Minister said.
Addressing an Indian trade delegation led by Indian Minister of State of Commerce, Industry & Textiles Dr. Daggubati Purandeswari on Monday in Colombo, Minister Bathiyutheen has said that both countries are re-joining to move the India-Sri Lanka Joint Task Force (ISJTF) forward, with greater speed and private sectors at both ends are being positioned to take the lead.
The establishment of the Joint Task Force proposed by Minister Bathiyutheen is aimed at promoting mutual trade between India and Sri Lanka and promoting Indian investments in several key sectors including pharmaceuticals, textiles and auto accessories.
Dr. Purandeswari has noted that the bilateral trade cooperation could be taken forward not only in terms of state to state level, but on public private partnership levels as well.
"Future trade and investment initiatives we envisage can take India's trade and investments in Sri Lanka to new levels," she has asserted.
The Indian delegation leader has said that following the Indo Lanka CEO Forum held in August 2012 and JTF process the Indian Commerce Secretary is aware of the issues faced by Sri Lankan exporters and solutions can be worked out for their issues.
"We should iron out these issues for faster JTF and for the bilateral trade goal of US$ 10 billion by 2015," Indian Minister has said.
Minister Bathiyutheen agreeing with the Indian delegation has pointed out the need to move beyond the 'state-to-state only' trade to more private sector involvement in developing trade.
He has noted that the public private sector partnership is also important towards achieving the US$ 10 billion trade goal in three years.
Both Ministers have stressed the need for more frequent trade meetings between Commerce Ministry officials of both sides and also discussed other recent developments in bilateral trade and commerce, among others.
According to the Industries and Commerce Ministry, India, which ranked as the 16th largest export destination of Sri Lanka in 2000, has emerged as the fourth largest buyer of Lankan exports in 2011 absorbing 5.1% of Sri Lanka's total exports to the world, after USA, UK and Italy, spurred by the implementation of India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA) in 2000.
According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, total bilateral trade between the two countries in 2012 was US$ 4.08 billion.
In 2012 Sri Lanka's exports to India has increased to US$ 566.37 million from US$ 521.61 million in 2011 while Indian exports to Sri Lanka has decreased to US$ 3.51 billion in 2012 from US$ 4.35 billion in 2011, mostly due to the reduction in imports of vehicles from India.