ISLAMABAD: High Commissioner of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka Major Gen (r) Jayanath Lokukatagodage said that Sri Lanka is keen to promote trade with Pakistan as enhanced trade would help improving living standards of the people of both countries.

He said addressing business community here at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) that Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia and there are numerous fields in which both countries can develop mutual collaboration.

He said Sri Lank has introduced liberalised investment regime and free of cost land is offered to foreign investors for investment in specific sectors.

He said that Sri Lanka can be considered as one of the most attractive investment destinations in South-East Asia region due to its resilient economy, supportive government policies, educated and adaptable workforce, access to key markets, fast developing infrastructure and vibrant business environment.

He urged that Pakistani investors should explore Sri Lanka for investment opportunities in areas of interest.

He further said that Pakistan is providing important defense cooperation to Sri Lanka and added that agriculture & tourism have good potential for bilateral cooperation.

He said both countries should focus on organising trade fairs on reciprocal basis to boost up trade. He said ICCI should take a business delegation to Sri Lanka and assured that his embassy would provide all necessary cooperation to make its visit successful.

Speaking at the occasion, Acting President ICCI Khalid Malik said that Sri Lanka is the first country with which Pakistan had signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2005, but bilateral trade of around US$ 325 million is negligible.

He said that both countries should give enhanced role to private sectors for improving trade volume. He added that Pakistan is exporting cement, pharmaceuticals, textiles, bed wear, vegetables & rice to Sri Lanka while its many other products including Information Technology (IT), handicrafts, leather products, surgical items could capture good share in Sri Lankan market.

He urged that Sri Lankan investors should take active part in CPEC that offered huge investment opportunities to foreign investors.

He said that Sri Lankan tea has a good future in Pakistan and assured that ICCI would consider taking a trade mission to Sri Lanka to explore new areas of mutual cooperation between the private sectors of both countries.