According to the recent press reports, PM Ranil Wickremasinge visited India in order to meet his Indian counterpart, Modi, and to give the final consent on several issues of critical importance to Sri Lanka.  Among such issues, one is the ETCA agreement. Throughout the recent past, Professionals National Front (PNF), a collection of leading professional bodies, has paid our close attention on this matter. Necessary steps were taken to acknowledge the general public, on its negative impacts. This was specially so in the absence of any national policy regarding the international trade and trade agreements, established through the parliament and portraying the national interests.

Before reaching any trade agreement with other countries, or even before initiating any discussion on such agreement, it is imperative to have such national policy. As a result of continuous pressure by PNF and by some other organizations, the President Hon. Maitreepala Sirisena agreed to appoint a commission, which is responsible to the public, to formulate a National Policy on the International Trade and Trade Agreements and issue the relevant gazette notification on that appointment. Hon. Malik Samarawickrama, the Minister on Development Strategies and International Trade, has been duly instructed by the president with respect to this gazette notification. In the meantime, the President Hon. Maitreepala Sirisena promised not to sign either ETCA or any other agreement on trade or/and services, until the formulation of National Policy on the International Trade and Trade Agreements. However, the issuance of this gazette notification has been continuously delayed and no actions have been taken whatsoever to appoint the said commission.

In the gross negligence by the government on the matter, a public commission for the purpose of formulating of National Policy on the International Trade and Trade Agreements has been formed by the involvement of PNF, in the last March. This was consisting of the scholars and professionals of highest caliber, an attempt even any government would not be successful at. The commission has initiated the summons at the beginning of April and various parties representing the religious dignitaries, scholars, professionals, organizations and politicians from government and from opposition have made their presentations so far. The proceedings are continuing and the recommendations will be handed over to the government once the proceedings concluded. It is the undeniable responsibility of the government to pay due attention on the recommendations when forming the National Policy and reach the agreements with the best interest of the country and the nation.

As such, it is strongly requested to restrain from discussions on any international trade agreements, including ETCA, until the formation of National Policy on the International Trade and Trade Agreements.

Professional’s National Front

Eng. Kapila Perera

Secretary – Professionals’ National Front

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