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12th round of ETCA negotiations conclude

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In a significant development that marks a milestone in Sri Lanka’s economic and technological journey, the 12th Round of Economic and Technology Cooperation Agreement (ETCA) negotiations between Sri Lanka and India took place from the 30th of October to the 1st of November 2023 in Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s vision has always been to integrate with the largest economies in Asia and East Asia, emphasizing export diversification while maintaining and nurturing existing major export markets. The ultimate goal is to connect with key players through the global value chain to boost the country’s economy and improve the living standards of its people.

The discussions during this round of negotiations hold immense promise. The visit of the President of Sri Lanka to New Delhi on the 29th of July 2023 set the stage for a renewed commitment to the ETCA, which had been on hold since 2018. Both the Heads of States, representing Sri Lanka and India, agreed to comprehensively enhance bilateral trade and investments, especially in new and priority areas.

A delegation of 19 Indian officials, led by Shri Anant Swarup, Chief Negotiator and the Joint Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India, visited Sri Lanka. They engaged in extensive discussions on this comprehensive Agreement.

Representing Sri Lanka in these crucial negotiations was the National Trade Negotiating Committee (NTNC), headed by Mr. K.J. Weerasinghe, the Chief Negotiator from the Presidential Secretariat. The Sri Lankan Negotiation Team included representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Food Security, Ministry of Industries, Department of Trade & Investment Policy, Attorney General’s Department, Department of Commerce, Department of Agriculture, Central Bank of Sri Lanka and Board of Investment, among others.

The discussions during the 12th Round covered a wide range of topics, including Goods, Services, Rules of Origin, Trade remedies, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation, Technical Barriers to Trade, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and Legal and Institutional Affairs. Additionally, a special session was dedicated to addressing implementation-related issues of the existing India-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (ISFTA).

This resumption of ETCA negotiations represents a significant step towards strengthening the economic partnership between Sri Lanka and India. It underlines the commitment of both nations to foster collaboration in various sectors, ultimately benefiting their economies and the well-being of their citizens. As the talks progress, it is anticipated that this agreement will open up new avenues for trade and investment, bringing prosperity to both nations in the ever-evolving global landscape.

(President’s Media Division)

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Four national sports federations temporarily suspended

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A Gazette notification has been issued by the Minister of Sports, Harin Fernando, announcing the suspension of the Sri Lanka Cycling Federation, the Sri Lanka Rugby Federation, the Sri Lanka Automobile Federation, and the Sri Lanka Netball Federation, effective from Wednesday, May 29.

The Extraordinary Gazette also appoints Professor (Rear Admiral) Shemal Fernando, the Director General of the Department of Sports Development, as the competent authority for the limited purpose of organizing the elections of office bearers for these national sports governing bodies.

In a post on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter), Sports Minister Harin Fernando clarified that the government will not appoint any interim committees for any sport federation.

The Gazette notification states that the Minister of Sports and Youth Affairs has temporarily suspended the registration of the aforementioned federations, exercising the powers vested in him under Sections 32 and 33 of the Sports Law, No. 25 of 1973, and its amendments.

Additionally, Professor (Rear Admiral) Shemal Fernando has been appointed as the competent authority effective from May 29, 2024.

His role includes managing administrative and other necessary activities for the federations, organizing and conducting relevant elections, and performing duties appropriately until the elections are completed.

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MoD clearance needed when ex-servicemen seek Russian visit visa – Sabry

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Sri Lanka ex-servicemen applying for visit visas to Russia will now have to get Defence Ministry clearance, Minister of Foreign Affairs M U M Ali Sabry said.

Sabry met the Russian Ambassador in Colombo Levan S Dzhagaryan today (May 29).

On a X post, the minister said, “We addressed the urgent situation of Sri Lankans being deployed in the Russia-Ukraine conflict and agreed on immediate steps to resolve these issues.”

“Russia will now require Sri Lanka Defence Ministry clearance for visit visas of ex-servicemen,” he said, adding that the upcoming visit to Russia will enable further discussions to find a solution to this matter.

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Japan announces skills new test in Building Cleaning

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The Embassy of Japan has announced that a new skills test in the field of Building Cleaning will be newly introduced in July 2024 in Sri Lanka for those seeking jobs in Japan as specified skilled workers. 

Together with the existing skills tests in Nursing Care, Food Service and Agriculture that have been in place since 2022 as well as recently added Construction, Airport Ground Handling and Accommodation Industry, skills tests will be available in seven fields in Sri Lanka with the addition of Building Cleaning.
Building Cleaning is the work to eliminate environmental pollutants in the buildings, such as offices, shopping centres and hotels to maintain the hygiene conditions of the interior of buildings such as the entrance hall, the passage, the toilet, the floor and the bed making work at hotels. House cleaning work is not included in building cleaning work.

The Embassy of Japan sincerely hopes that many talented and aspiring Sri Lankans will take advantage of this new opportunity to work in Japan in the Building Cleaning sector, which is estimated to welcome up to 37,000 foreign workers over a five-year period starting in 2024. The Embassy of Japan will continue to provide the necessary support and cooperation for Sri Lanka’s development, further deepening our long-standing friendship with Sri Lanka.

For more information on the skills test, please visit the following website of Japan Building Maintenance Association. It contains an Introduction video of Building Cleaning (available in Sinhala, English and Japanese), the textbook (available in Sinhala, English and Japanese) and a practical exam preparation video.

https://www.j-bma.or.jp/examination/94334

– The application period for the skills test will be from 5th June (6:30am) – 12th June (1:30pm) 2024 (Sri Lankan time).
– The skills test will take place from 16th – 18 July 2024 at Sri Lanka Foundation Institute (SLFI).
– The examination fee is Rs. 5,000.
– The skills test details: A judgement test (paper test) and a practical test on building cleaning will be implemented. The paper test is an examination that uses photographs and illustrations. The practical test
consists of three tasks (Task 1: Routine cleaning of floor surfaces, Task 2: Routine cleaning of glass surfaces, and Task 3: Routine cleaning of western style large urinals).

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