COLOMBO: The proposed Economic and Technological Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) between Sri Lanka and India, will be tilted in Lanka's favor, said the Lankan Deputy Foreign Minister, Dr. Harsha de Silva, here on Tuesday.
Speaking to the Foreign Correspondents' Association of Sri Lanka, the Minister said that the ETCA would be an "asymmetrical" agreement in favor of Lanka given the asymmetry in the size and capabilities of the Lankan and Indian economies.
Dr. de Silva clarified that negotiations on the ETCA will begin "in the next few months" and that, in a departure from the original plan, there will be no "framework agreement" to begin with.
"We will directly go for final negotiations," he said.
While a large section of Lankan businessmen, professionals and the media are opposed to the ETCA on the plea that, through it, India will smother Lanka, Dr.de Silva said that closer economic integration with India is necessary to lift the Lankan economy from the doldrums in which it is.
The Lankan government has assured professionals that the ETCA will not throw open jobs for low level professional workers from India.
The Minister further said that Lanka will consider entering into similar agreements with China and other countries after the pact with India is finalized.