Sri Lanka keen to further strengthen trade with Pakistan

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Islamabad, JAN 24 /DNA/ – Bandula Gunawardhane, Trade Minister of Sri Lanka said that Pakistan was a longstanding friend and key trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia and his country was keen to further strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties with it to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes for both countries. He said this while addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). He visited ICCI leading a Sri Lankan trade delegation to hold B2B meetings with the local business community. Tharaka Balasuriya State Minister of Regional Cooperation, Prof. Dr. Saj Mendis Director General of the Economic Affairs Division, Ms. Asma Kamal, Trade Secretary Pak High Commission to Sri Lanka, U.L.Niyas Acting High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan also accompanied the Sri Lankan delegation.

Dr. Bandula Gunawardhane said that Pak-Sri Lanka FTA has contributed to expanding bilateral trade but more efforts from both sides were needed to maximize its benefits. He said that top Sri Lankan exports to Pakistan included betel leaves, women fabrics, coconut products, MDF & fibre boards, textiles articles, electrical & electronic products whereas major Pakistani exports to Sri Lanka included woven fabrics, mineral products, cereals, pharma products and potatoes. He stressed that both sides should focus on diversification of products to improve bilateral trade.

Tharaka Balasuriya State Minister of Regional Cooperation, said that Pakistan was a time-tested friend of Sri Lanka and both countries have good potential to enhance cooperation in pharmaceuticals, IT, tourism, minerals and electrical vehicles. He said that Pakistani investors should take advantage of investment in SEZs in Sri Lanka.

 Ms. Asma Kamal, Trade Secretary, Pakistan High Commission to Sri Lanka said that Pakistan wanted to increase bilateral trade with Sri Lanka as the current level of trade was not reflective of their actual potential. She said that both sides should address tariff and non-tariff barriers to take maximum benefit from FTA for trade promotion.

Welcoming the delegation, Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that Sri Lanka was the first country with whom Pakistan had signed FTA in 2005, but both countries have not taken full benefit of it for trade expansion. He stressed for removing trade barriers and hurdles to the implementation of FTA that would enable Pakistan and Sri Lanka to improve bilateral trade to USD 3 billion from the current level of USD 440 to 450 million. He said that many Pakistani products including marble & granite, Basmati rice, textiles, cement, fruits & vegetables and others could find a good market in Sri Lanka and Sri Lanka should import these products from Pakistan.  

Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh Senior Vice President, Muhammad Faheem Khan Vice President ICCI, Zubair A. Malik former President ICCI and others also spoke at the occasion and stressed for frequent exchange of trade delegations to explore all untapped areas of mutual cooperation. Both sides held B2B meetings to discuss business collaborations in areas of mutual interest.