India will help Sri Lanka establish a special economic zone to manufacture auto components in Trincomalee, Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said here on Friday.

“I cannot talk about how much investment will happen in this,’’ he said, addressing a press conference.

The SEZ would promote exports to the production chains in India..

A Joint Task Force on the SEZ would be set up , he said, after inaugurating the India Show here. The task force would submit its report within 90 days, he added.

Pharma hub

The Minister also announced the setting up of a pharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Sri Lanka. He said that within 30 days a pharma industry team from India would visit Sri Lanka to work out the details.

The Minister said that India and Sri Lanka would aim to double bilateral trade by 2015, which crossed the $5-billion mark this year.

The signing of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) would bring more investment and services into Sri Lanka. The Minister said that the two Commerce Secretaries would resume dialogue on CEPA, and resolve all related issues. He asserted that Sri Lanka would be given preferential access to the “big Indian market.”

Trade issues

Earlier, Mr. Sharma, and his Sri Lankan counterpart, Rishad Bathiudeen, held a round of informal discussions on outstanding trade issues. Sri Lanka’s Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa also participated.

Sri Lanka has been asking India to be a “little large hearted” on outstanding issues in the Free Trade Regime, while India has been wanting to go to the next level, and progress on CEPA. Sri Lanka wants to first address issues in FTA ahead of taking up CEPA, which has been in the making for more than half-a-decade now. A formal meeting will be held during the course of Mr. Sharma’s four-day stay here.