islamabad -

The fifth Technical Level Meeting on Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) was held in Islamabad from April 29-30, 2013 wherein both the countries emphasised upon the need to enhance the existing level of trade and commerce through greater interaction.

The meeting was co-chaired by Munir Qureshi, Secretary Ministry of Commerce, Government of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, and Anura Siriwardena, Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Government of Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.

The meeting agreed that most of the decisions taken during last Technical Level Meeting regarding margin of preference & tariff rate quotas on certain items and no-concession list of Pakistan have been resolved. The meeting also constituted new Joint Working Groups on services, investment and customs and auto part, which would meet respectively, to further deepen Pakistan Sri Lanka economic relations.

The meeting also decided that Joint Working Group (JWG) would be constituted to give proposals for expanding the scope of FTA to include investment and services. The meeting also agreed that nodal persons will be nominated and JWG will have a meeting to discuss all customs related issues.

Pakistan side clarified that Pakistan is free from Mango Pulp Weevil pest. It promised to hand over the information on various methods being used currently to treat mangoes within next one month. Sri Lankan side agreed to examine this issue and discuss it in the next meeting. Both sides agreed to form a Working Group on Investment that would be notified by both governments within a month of signing of these minutes.  The Chapter on Services will be reviewed by the Working Group on Trade and brought for discussion in the next meeting Technical Level Meeting.

It was decided that as per the Customs Cooperation Agreement, the two sides would have meeting in Colombo on the sidelines of forthcoming JEC. Exploring possibility of entering into Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) between SLSI and PSQCA; both sides agreed that a draft would be shared within one month.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka also agreed that the working group on trade notified by both sides may explore the possibility of such an MoU. The JWG may meet on the sidelines of forthcoming Joint Economic Commission (JEC). The meeting also agreed that Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design (PIFD) would send two representatives to the exhibition scheduled to be held in Colombo in 29-31 August 2013. The Sri Lanka side was requested to identify the institution, which could collaborate with PIDF in the fields of gems and jewellery, textile and fashion lingerie.

Munir Qureshi Secretary attributed successful working of PSFTA as a result of dedication, hard work and spirit of accommodation displayed by both sides. He, however, noted that the present trade figures are far below the trade potential of the two countries. He emphasized upon the need to enhance the existing level of trade and commerce through greater interaction. He further evinced keen desire to broaden and deepen the PSFTA by including investment and services in its ambit. The Secretary hoped that 5th Technical Level PSFTA Meeting in Islamabad would play a vital role in devising ways and means to give a much needed boost to existing volume of trade.  Anura Siriwardena expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and excellent hospitality extended to him and his delegation since their arrival in Pakistan, and shared the views of the Commerce Secretary of Pakistan relating to deepening of PSFTA.

He said that there was a strong urge for augmenting bilateral trade.

He, however, was also of the view that much remains to be done to realize the actual potential of bilateral trade. He said that the key to move forward would be to create a high level of awareness of the opportunities provided by the agreement to the business community.