Sri Lanka keen to enhance trade with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD – Sri Lanka on Tuesday showed interest to further enhance bilateral trade and economic relations with Pakistan as both countries have good potential to do trade in many areas.

G.L. Gnanatheva, Consul General of Sri Lanka based in Karachi, along with Counsellor of Sri Lankan High Commission visited Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and expressed interest to enhance bilateral trade with Pakistan. He said many Pakistani products including pharmaceuticals, rice, fruits & vegetables, steel, cement, garments & textiles have huge potential in Sri Lanka and similarly Sri Lankan tea, wall tiles, floor tiles, bathroom fittings have great scope in Pakistan. He urged that business community of both countries should step up efforts to realize all potential areas of business cooperation.

He said Sri Lanka has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China and SAARC countries and by enhancing cooperation with it, Pakistan could get better access to huge markets of ASEAN and China. He said Sri Lanka was producing 75% electricity through hydro source and both countries have good potential to cooperate in energy sector for achieving mutually beneficial outcomes.

He said Sri Lankan manufacturers had made huge investment for enhancing production capacity focusing on Pakistan, but hike in regulatory duty by Pakistan has affected Sri Lankan exports to it. He said Sri Lanka was the first country to sign FTA with Pakistan, but Pakistan’s approach of increasing taxes through SROs was a problem in exploiting full potential of FTA. He said Sri Lanka has made attractive investment policies for foreign investors and Pakistani investors should explore Sri Lanka for JVs and investment. He said there was huge scope for Pakistani pharmaceutical sector to invest in Sri Lanka and enhance exports to many other countries.

Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, ICCI said that despite signing FTA, bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was not encouraging and stressed that both countries should focus on improving business linkages between their private sectors for exploring all untapped areas of mutual cooperation. He said encouraging frequent exchange of trade delegations and organizing single country exhibition was the way forward for both countries to promote bilateral trade and economic relations. He assured that ICCI would work with Sri Lankan High Commission to improve trade relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Muhammad Naveed, Senior Vice President, and Nisar Mirza, Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that CPEC has created plenty of new business opportunities in Pakistan in energy, infrastructure development and other sectors.

They stressed that Sri Lanka investors should visit Pakistan to explore JVs and investment in this mega development project.

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