India will work with Sri Lanka for the modernisation of closed textile mills, Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma announced in Colombo on Saturday. India will also establish manufacturing units in apparel and textiles sector, he added.

“Sri Lanka imports yarn and fabric from India. We feel that cooperation in the textiles sector is very important from the perspective of both the countries,” Mr. Sharma told the Indian media in Colombo, stating that this had come up during his meeting with Sri Lankan Minister for Economic Development Basil Rajapaksa.

A delegation of leading industrialists in the textile sector will visit Sri Lanka “in the first half of September,” to engage with both officials and captains of industry here.

Describing his meetings with Ministers in Sri Lanka, as “substantive and productive,” he said that there was “a free and fair exchange of views.” The meetings reviewed the bilateral relationship in regard to all issues, including that of people in the Northern Province who have been displaced because of the war.

Mr. Sharma said that Sri Lankan Foreign Minister G.L.Peiris and the government were appreciative of India’s support to the ongoing efforts to rebuild areas which destroyed during the conflict. “I have reaffirmed India’s commitment to continue all possible support for building the infrastructure and any institution,” he added.

Joint Task Force to be set up

Mr. Sharma announced the finalisation of members of the Joint Task Force to set up the engineering/manufacturing SEZ. “The Sri Lankan government has assured that they will be notifying from the Sri Lankan side very soon, possibly today,” he added.

Indian Commerce Secretary S.R. Rao will visit Colombo to hold talks with the Treasury Secretary on modalities. A delegation of pharma industry, Pharmexcil, will visit Sri Lanka from August 14 to 16, to explore steps required to set up a pharmaceutical hub. The task force will have the mandate for both – setting up the SEZ for auto-components and engineering goods, and the Pharma SEZ.

The JTF will comprise the Joint Secretary (Commerce) Arvind Mehta, CII past president R. Seshasayee, and representatives from Automotive Component Manufacturers Association of India, Engineering Export Promotion Council, Textiles Export Promotion Council and Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council Of India.