SL, India trade volumes reach all time high

Colombo: Bilateral trade between India and Sri Lanka had surged by over 70 per cent while touching an all time high of USD 5 billion, the Indian High Commissioner here said on Thursday. Indian companies have invested over USD 100 million in the island.

Ashok K Kantha, the Indian envoy, was addressing the 63rd Indian Republic Day celebrations held in the High Commission. Kantha said the year 2011 had witnessed impressive progress in all areas, including political, security, trade, investment, tourism, education, culture, and development cooperation.

India was the largest trading partner of Sri Lanka, a leading investor and also the source of the largest number of tourists, Kantha noted. He also highlighted the vast expansion in India`s development assistance and the growing recognition that Indian projects were being completed in a timely and efficient manner.

Referring to the MoU signed for construction and repair of 49,000 houses under a grant assistance of USD 260 million, he pointed that this was perhaps one of the largest projects of its kind undertaken by India in a foreign country.

On cultural cooperation and people-to-people links, India had just announced a three-fold increase in scholarship schemes for Sri Lanka, involving a grant of 2.5 billion Rupees.

Indian Railways would be launching a special train named `Damba Diwa Vandana`, to take Sri Lankan Buddhist pilgrims from Chennai to all the major Buddhist sites in India.