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India, Sri Lanka seek to double bilateral trade volume

COLOMBO: Officials from Sri Lanka and India held talks on trade, investment and economic cooperation here aimed at doubling the bilateral trade volume.

"Recognising that India is Sri Lanka's leading trade partner and that bilateral trade between the two countries has now reached $5 billion, it was agreed that the potential which remains to expand bilateral trade further to the tune of $10 billion would be exploited in the next 3 years," said a statement issued by the Sri Lankan government today.

During the talks held on June 24-25, it was agreed that there was considerable potential to expand bilateral trade, in a balanced manner through optimal utilization of the opportunities available between the two neighbours.

Sri Lanka's secretary to the Treasury, PB Jayasundera, said the talks covered entire gamut of economic, trade and development related issues between the two countries.

"Review of several elements in the current bilateral trade in relation to the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement will be undertaken over the coming months," he said.

The Free Trade Agreement between India and Sri Lanka was the first ever bilateral trade agreement for both countries, signed in 1998 and enforced since 2000.

India has emerged as Sri Lanka's foremost development partner in public investment strategy through the provision of assistance and credit totalling USD 1.75 billion, Sri Lankan Treasury stated.

Indian projects include the construction of 50,000 houses in the former conflict stricken areas in the north and east and also in the central hill plantation areas.

India has also undertaken to assist public transport network infrastructure rebuilding.

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