New Delhi: The India-Sri Lanka CEOs Forum will hold its first meeting Saturday in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
The forum, which has been set up to develop a road map for increased cooperation and mutually beneficial economic partnership between the two countries, will deliberate ways and means to enhance trade and investments between the two countries.
Top business leaders from India and Sri Lanka will participate in the forum meeting. The forum will also interact with Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and his Sri Lankan counterpart Rishad Bathiudeen.
Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of Bharti Airtel, will be the Indian co-chair of the forum with Kulathunga Rajpaksa, executive director of Samson International, from Sri Lanka.
The bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka was worth $4 billion in 2010-11 and has the potential to double to $8 billion within the next three years.
Sri Lanka is India`s largest trade partner in South Asia, while India is Sri Lanka`s largest trade partner globally.
The trade between the two countries grew rapidly particularly after the India-Sri Lanka free trade agreement (FTA) came into force in March 2000. Between 2000-2008, bilateral trade multiplied nearly five-fold.
The Indian investments in Sri Lanka have been on the rise and total cumulative investments stand around $600 million. The key sectors include telecom, healthcare, real estate, IT, hospitality and tourism.
The investments from Sri Lanka into India are focused in sectors such as textiles, food processing and logistics.
The bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) under discussion between the two countries can be a significant catalyst to economic engagement.
The proposed agreement covers trade in goods and services, economic cooperation in areas like fisheries, energy, pharmaceuticals, textiles and tourism, and investment issues.
Participants from India attending the CEOs Forum include Arup Roy Choudhury, chairman of NTPC; Atul Punj, chairman of Punj Lloyd Group; Hemant Contractor, MD of State Bank of India; Venu Srinivasan, CMD of TVS Motor Company; and Vinod K. Desari, MD of Ashok Leyland.
From Sri Lanka, the participants include A. Hettigoda, MD of Hettigoda Group of Companies; B.R.L. Fernando, chairman of CIC Holdings; K. Dharmasiri, general manager of Bank of Ceylon; and Kapila Chandrasena, CEO of Sri Lankan Airlines.
FICCI has been assigned to hold the secretariat of the forum in India, while the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce would be the secretariat for the forum in Sri Lanka.
FICCI secretary general Rajiv Kumar said, "Following the signing of the FTA between India and Sri Lanka, we have seen both countries benefit with trade and investment flows going up over time. It is important that India and Sri Lanka now focus on new horizons and work together to sign a comprehensive economic partnership agreement".