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BIMSTEC FTA may be delayed, says Sri Lankan envoy but pushes for soft diplomacy 

webindia123 , Aug 20, 2018

Even as there is a push by certain quarters for the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) grouping to speed up negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Sri Lanka on Monday said such a process will take some more time.

"Even for the frame work agreement, it took seven is easy to negotiate FTA between two countries.....India and Sri Lanka have it. But when seven countries are involved, may be it is not easy," Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India Chitranganee Wagiswara said at an interactive session organised by FICCI.

"So, I think it will take more time to come on some agreement on FTA," she said in presence of envoys and senior officials from other BIMSTEC member nations including Thailand, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Bhutan. Therefore, she underlined that though trade and economy is the 'main issue', other aspects of parleys should be pursued between the member nations.

"If FTA and issues like import and export take time, we should pick up other areas where we could agree upon. So, I spoke about soft diplomacy, connectivity and people to people contact," she said and "fast track" these.

The Fourth BIMSTEC Summit is likely to be held on August 30 and 31 in Nepal.

Nepal government, which will be hosting the event, has also said that the upcoming summit must assess its role of past 20 years and chart out the plan of action with time-bound targets for the future course of action in order to have positive impacts in the region.

BIMSTEC has seven member states: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand.



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