India and Sri Lanka will be discussing early next year, a Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) on Standards to boost Lanka’s exports to India, the Development Strategy and International Trade Ministry said in a statement here.
Lanka’s exports to India have so far not realized their potential because India does not recognize the standards certificates issued by Lankan authorities.
The Ministry’s statement said that at last week’s meeting of the Indian and Lankan Commerce Secretaries at New Delhi, the Indian side agreed to discuss the question of entering into an MRA during talks on the proposed India-Lanka Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) to be held in Colombo in February 2016.
“The Indian side will organize workshops in Sri Lanka for Sri Lankan exporters/officials to increase awareness of Indian standards, regulations, certificate of origin and other measures during January-February 2016,” the statement said.
A recent study by the Colombo-based Verite Research found that Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) in India, such as the non-recognition of Lankan standards certificates, have been responsible for retarding Lankan exports to India, despite the existence of a Free Trade Agreement since 2000.
In 2002, Lanka and India had entered into an agreement on recognizing standards, but that was completely non-reciprocal, with only Lanka recognizing Indian standards certificates.
An agreement was reached in 2006 on mutual acceptance of standards certificates issued by the two countries, but it has not been implemented. And even this agreement is subject to the “harmonization” of the standards of the two countries. And harmonization is a long way off, Veritepoints out.
Without MRA, Lankan products have to go through quality checks which take a lot of time and money. Verite found that getting a food sample tested may cost US$ 4.5 to US$ 70. Test results my take 20 to 30 days to arrive. Food products which have a short shelf life suffer the most, as a result. (New Indian Express)
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