ETCA review report in March

– Dept. of Commerce reviews proposed agreement
– Cabinet nod sought to have DoC DG as Chief Negotiator

By Madhusha Thavapalakumar

The proposals and findings that have been produced through the negotiations of the Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) are currently being reviewed by the Department of Commerce, with its report expected to be submitted by mid-March.

11 rounds of negotiations have been concluded in the proposed agreement between India and Sri Lanka, of which the last round took place in October, 2018.
Based on the report of the Department of Commerce, the Ministry of Development Strategies and International Trade (MoDSIT) will decide whether to resume to the next round of negotiations or to make further amendments to what has been negotiated thus far.
Speaking to The Sunday Morning Business, Secretary to the MoDSIT S.T. Kodikara noted that not only the report of the ETCA negotiation, but also the report of Thailand-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation has been submitted to the Department of Commerce as well as the Cabinet of Ministers.
“We have submitted these reports to the Cabinet as well. However, that was just for their information”, he said.
He also highlighted that even though negotiations for agreements are in progress, Sri Lanka will neither ink any agreement nor terminate them before thoroughly studying the benefits rendered by those agreements to the country.
Meanwhile, the MoDSIT plans to submit a Cabinet paper proposing the Department of Commerce Director General Sonali Wijeratne be appointed the Chief Negotiator of Sri Lanka’s FTA Negotiating Team.
Upon the approval of the Cabinet paper, Wijeratne would hold the post of Chief Negotiator in addition to her role at the Department of Commerce. The post of Chief FTA Negotiator currently remains vacant, as former Chief FTA Negotiator K.J. Weerasinghe tendered his resignation earlier this year, citing health concerns.
“The post of Chief Negotiator can be changed by the Cabinet anytime. We considered for a year. If we are not going to change it, they can continue. It will be a reappointment or an extension, therefore there is no time period, but it can be changed at any time,” Kodikara said.
The team will comprise representatives from relevant agencies and departments, including three subcommittees representing the Department of Commerce.