The Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs (COYLE) is forming a lobby group soon in consultation with all chambers of commerce and trade in the island to justify to policy makers why there is no need for Sri Lanka to have a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with India.
The group will evaluate the scope of the overall trade arrangements between the two countries. The formation of the lobby group was endorsed at a public seminar on Tuesday on CEPA held at the Centre for Banking Studies of the Central Bank, according to COYLE Secretary General Gamini Sarath.
He told the Business Times that all the speakers including W.K.H.Wegapitiya, Chairman COYLE and Chairman LAUGFS Holdings Ltd, Chris Dharmakeerthi, Board member of government agency SEMA, Samantha Kumarasinghe, Chairman & Managing Director of Multichemi Group of Companies, and Dileepa Witharana, Senior lecturer at the Open University who made presentations at the seminar emphasised the need to adopt sufficient measures and protection, considering regional experiences with similar agreements and looking at the issue in a more practical angle. They called for public dialogue on advantages and disadvantages of the current Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and India and advancing to CEPA which is widely believed to go beyond trade in goods to include services, to facilitate greater investment flows between the two countries and to explore new areas of economic co-operation.
The CEPA though scheduled to be signed during the 2008 SAARC conference and later, said to be during the visit of the President's visit to India in early June this year, was postponed due to protests from many quarters. Consensus is yet to be reached between the government and the business community in the country, to sign and activate the CEPA. The Sri Lankan government has taken a cautious approach and sought to consult all stakeholders before arriving at decision in respect of the trade agreement with India, officials said.