Indian push to finalise trade agreement sparks protests in Colombo

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 26 May 2010, 14:42 GMT]
Domestic service industries in the island would be affected by the Indian push to upgrade the bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which exists between India and Sri Lanka to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), say protesters in Colombo belonging to various service sectors. The Indian Establishment, locked in a corporate race with China, has been pushing Colombo to finalise the CEPA agreement, which New Delhi wants signed when Mahinda Rajapaksa visits India on June 8. Rajapaksa's visit to India is scheduled to take place after the celebration of Indian cinema and corporate weekend, known as Indian International Film Awards (IIFA) Weekend Festival, which is to be held in Colombo in the first weekend of June.

The CEPA agreement, which was to be finalised during the SAARC summit in 2008, had been postponed due to protests from the opposition.

The protesters say the CEPA agreement opens up country for service sector employees from India to 'invade' the island.

Meanwhile, at least 25,000 Chinese labourers have entered the island so far on various contracts secured by China.

While allowing cheap labourers from China, Rajapaksa government is attempting to allow an invasion by the middle-class of India, protesters say complaining that there are only a few areas open for them in India. Around 80 service sectors will be open to India in the island by the CEPA agreement.

The opposition has been demanding amendments to the agreement.

Rajapaksa government says the CEPA agreement would promote foreign investments in the island.

The details of CEPA agreement are kept confidential.


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