ISLAMABAD - The visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapkasa and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Saturday agreed to enhance trade between the two countries upto two billion US dollars during the next three years, officials said.

The volume of current bilateral trade stands at $375 million.

“The two held bilateral talks and agreed to continue their cooperation in the fields of defence, agriculture, banking, shipping and tourism,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said. The Sri Lankan President agreed to continue the defence cooperation between the two countries, it said.

Both sides agreed to make the Joint Ministerial Commission more effective to enhance cooperation in all sectors compatible to their ties. Next meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission will be held in Colombo this year. They agreed to explore opportunities of investments in various sectors especially in the fields of construction, education, agriculture and shipping, the statement said.

Both sides also agreed to explore the vistas in the fields of banking and the State Bank of Pakistan would discuss the currency swap to boost trade between the two countries. The establishment of National Bank of Pakistan in Sri Lanka was also discussed which will increase trade between the two countries. Both the sides agreed to extend technical cooperation in the fields of agriculture and textile.

Prime Minister Gilani said the concurrence of MoU by the Sri Lankan government might be expedited. The Sri Lankan President extended his deep sense of gratitude to Pakistan for helping in surmounting the cause of terrorism in his country.

The prime minister said that Pakistani nation was happy that Sri Lanka was on trajectory of development and progress with 8 per cent GDP growth per annum.

The two sides emphasised on the need to exchange parliamentary and media delegations aimed at enhancing people to people contact to further strengthen the bilateral relations.

Meanwhile, both the countries Saturday signed three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) after bilateral talks to further promote cooperation in trade, technical education and media, officials said.

The visiting President Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Gilani witnessed the signing ceremony here at Prime Minister House along with the members of their delegations, a statement from the PM office said.

The first MoU was signed for the cooperation in media and it was signed by Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on behalf of Pakistan and Minister for External Affairs Prof GL Peiris signed the MoU on behalf of Sri Lanakan government.

The second MoU was signed by Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and Sri Lankan Minister for External Affairs Prof GL Peiris on behalf of their respective governments for credit of US dollars 200 million for improving Pakistan’s export from Sri Lanka.

The third MoU was signed by Secretary Ministry of Professional and Technical Education Qamar Zaman Chaudhry and Secretary to President of Sri Lanka Lalith Weerathunga on behalf of Sri Lankan government for enhancing cooperation in technical training in different fields.

The MoU was signed for the cooperation between National Vocational and Technical Training Commission (NAVTEC) of Pakistan and Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission of Sri Lanka.

Under the agreement to promote cooperation in media, both the countries will enhance the exchange of news stories, special programmes, important publications to highlight the historical, cultural, social, sports and literature of the two countries through radio, TV, agencies and information establishments.

The two countries will also explore the avenues for joint productions of documentary fields on topics of national and historical interests.

Under this MoU, the two countries will also exchange visits and training facilities of the TV, radio and print journalists experts media managers and trainees on reciprocal basis.