Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa's visit to India has the potential to impart momentum to bilateral trade and investment ties while leveraging huge geo-cultural commonalities between the two nations, Assocham said on Friday.
Rajapaksa arrived here on Thursday on a three-day visit, his first overseas tour after taking over the reins of Sri Lanka 10 days back, a reflection of importance he attaches to ties with India.
"We can significantly increase our bilateral trade from the present level of about $7 billion. Besides, mutual investment can also flourish in a number of areas, including ports, airports, highways, metro rails, telecommunication, petroleum products and hydel power," Assocham President B K Goenka said.
As large global economies are becoming more and more protectionist, "it is time the neighbouring countries enhance their economic engagement and take mutual advantage of a vast market, tapping the resources of South Asia", he said.
"With a vast metro rail network under implementation in more than 30 cities, India has gained expertise in urban rail projects, which can be offered to Sri Lanka. Cities like Colombo can leverage Indian expertise in metro rail, while our large construction firms can further strengthen their presence in the neighbouring country," Goenka said.
Similarly, India's gems and jewellery sector can leverage Sri Lanka's enviable treasure of precious stones for third country exports, he added.
There is a great scope for mutual engagement in textile value-added products, marine products, processed foods along with logistics.
"Some of Indian retail giants can also look forward to opening stores in Lankan cities where people have tastes and choices similar to consumers in India," Goenka said.