Bland statistics, by themselves, may not be helpful to determine whether the ISLFTA has been an actual success story for Sri Lankan exporters.
Sri Lankan exporters, in general, continue to have reservations with regard to the ISLFTA. Is the problem with the Agreement or its implementation?
There are some treaty related problems with the ISLFTA from the perspective of Sri Lankan exporters.
For example, the nature of the negative lists for India, conditions of Rules of Origin and concessions that were offered on the basis of quotas, allowed only a percentage of the overall trade between the two countries to effect under the ISLFTA.
Concessions were provided in the ISLFTA for items that Sri Lanka cannot supply while many items which Sri Lanka could supply came under the negative list.
Accesses for Sri Lankan products - Indian bureaucrats are sometimes unaware of the details of the ISLFTA.
There is also no effective help desk established under the ISLFTA.
There is a feeling that the exports to India have not kept pace despite the ISLFTA. Will a ETCA or a number of sector specific agreements help?
The bulk of Sri Lankan imports from India are not covered by the ISLFTA. Vehicles, petroleum products, steel, etc.
The ETCA clearly states that it is intended to enhance the ISLFTA. The 64 page draft in small font could turn in to a trade lawyers' paradise.