India and Sri Lanka after the 8th round meet of the Joint India-Sri Lanka Commission on 22 January 2013 at New Delhi inked two agreements.
The signed agreements are:
I. Agreement on Combating International Terrorism and Illicit Drug Trafficking; and
II. Revised Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement.
The External Affairs Ministers of India, Salman Khurshid and Sri Lanka, G L Peiris signed the following Agreements. The Joint Commission Meeting (JCM) was preceded by the Senior Officials Meeting at the level of the Foreign Secretaries of the two countries on 21 January 2013.
During the Joint Commission meet both the sides discussed bilateral relations that included development cooperation, trade, investment, power, science and technology, health, agriculture, connectivity, people to people contacts, culture and education.
Major discussions decisions made during India-Sri Lanka 8th Joint Commission Meet
• Both the nations recognized the need of creating a special economic partnership framework to achieve the shared goals of poverty alleviation, job creation and economic development for the people of the two countries, the two sides decided to take several steps to further deepen trade, tourism and investment relations. In relation to the same, an agreement was reached to encourage closer economic and trade linkages between all stakeholders with a view to double the bilateral trade to 10 billion US dollar, in next three years. For initiation of this the two nations, agreed to initiate a dialogue between the Commerce Secretary of India and the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development of Sri Lanka at an early date, so that a framework for a special economic partnership between the two countries can be evolved.
• Both sides noted the impressive growth of tourism traffic between the two countries both ways. India currently contributed the largest number of tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka and over 250,000 Sri Lankans visited India in 2011-2012. India and Sri Lanka agreed towards enhancement of connectivity, people to people exchanges and movement of goods and services, the two sides would meet at the earliest to explore the possibility of finalizing and signing a revised Air Services Agreement. They also agreed to work towards the resumption of ferry services between Talaimannar and Rameswaram for which the Joint Committee on Ferry Services would meet at the earliest. Decision was also made to hold the meeting of the Joint Working Group on Tourism in the first quarter to 2013 to identify potential areas of cooperation, including marketing and capacity-building.
• Sri Lanka and India made decisions to enhance bilateral cooperation in the areas of New and Renewable energy, and in this context agreed to conclude a MoU on Cooperation in New and Renewable Energy. They also decided to cooperate in establishing three power plants of aggregate capacity of 15 MW using biomass fuel, and enhance cooperation in wind and solar energy sectors. The two nations also agreed towards enhancement of bilateral cooperation in the fields of oil and gas, civil nuclear energy, science and technology and space technology was also made.
• The Joint Commission noted that both sides are committed to decrease incidents pertaining to fishing on the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL). Both countries agreed that the use of force could not be justified under any circumstances and reiterated in this regard the importance of continuing to extend humane treatment to all fishermen. Both sides welcomed the decisions arrived at the two meetings of the Joint Working Group on Fishing held in March 2011 and January 2012 respectively, and encouraged senior officials to meet regularly to continue the dialogue to strengthen cooperation on fishing related issues.
• The Joint Commission took note of the collaborative initiatives in the field of Information & Communication Technology, education, human resources development, training and capacity building, among others. To support the cause an agreement was reached to encourage the finalisation of the MoU between the National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) and the Department of Open Distance Learning in Sri Lanka, organisation of more Education Fairs in Sri Lanka, setting up Provincial Centres for English Language Training and finalisation of the MoU for cooperation in connection with the Ten Year Presidential Initiative to Steer Sri Lanka towards a Trilingual Society by 2020.
• Expressing satisfaction at cooperation in the field of culture, both sides reviewed and positively assessed the progress of work for restoration of Thiruketheeswaram temple at Mannar, renovation of the Duraiappah Stadium, and Jaffna Culture Centre. Both sides agreed to jointly celebrate the 150th birth anniversaries of Swami Vivekananda (in 2013-14) and of Anagarika Dharmapala (in 2014-15).
• Both sides agreed to enhance cooperation in the energy sector and to promote dialogue on security and defence issues of relevance to the bilateral relationship. The Joint Commission noted that the trilateral cooperation mechanism between India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives was an important initiative to promote maritime security in the region.
Both the sides, Sri Lanka and India also expressed satisfaction at the substantive developments in bilateral relations between the two countries in existence after the 7th session of the Joint Commission held at Colombo on 26 November 2010.