SIALKOT/DASKA - High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan Air Chief Marshal (r) Jayalath Weerakkody has said that it was the high time for both Pakistan and Sri Lanka to ensure easy excess to international trade markets. He hailed Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) saying that it was an excellent tool for expansion of bilateral trade between both the countries. Promotion of trade depends on better coordination, interaction and understanding among business communities of the countries. Presiding over a seminar on Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement organised by the Sri Lankan High Commission at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) in active collaboration with Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) on Saturday, he said there was a vast scope for enhancing trade between both the countries in the presence of FTA while both the countries could further strengthen their multi-faceted and multi-sectoral cooperation in education, culture, commerce and trade, science and technology, tourism and other fields. Their visit to Sri Lanka, he said would provide opportunities of direct interaction and one-to-one meeting with their counterparts. Pakistani businessmen were able to manufacture products in Sri Lanka, which have got high demands in Pakistani market he said. He further said this would enable the manufacturers to source raw material into Sri Lanka from Pakistan on duty free basis and export manufactured products to Pakistan on duty free concession offered under the agreement. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are lucrative investment locations for each others exporters, as on the one hand, Pakistan is a gateway to resource rich Central Asian States, while on the other hand, Sri Lanka enjoys duty free access to huge European and Indian markets, he added. He, however, observed that everything was fine between Pakistan and Sri Lanka except for trade. The cumulative volume of trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was 343 million US $, which was heavily in favour of Pakistan. Pakistan was exporting goods worth US$ 263 million and importing goods worth US$ 71 million from Sri Lanka. Addressing the seminar, SCCI Acting President Mir Farooq Meyer said the business community of Pakistan and Sri Lanka should keep on exploring opportunities of mutual interest. He stated that Sri Lanka was a true friend of Pakistan, as it always stood with us in difficult times. He maintained that Sri Lanka was the first country, which would have Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan. However, the results were not up to the mark, as bilateral trade was limited to few items; it was important that the businessmen of both the countries take full advantage of this FTA. SCCI Chief suggested active engagements of Sri Lankan and Pakistani Chambers of Commerce, which could act as resource base for exchanging information. Exchange of trade delegations and holding of joint trade exhibitions would also help in promoting bilateral trade, he observed. SCCI Chief Mir Farooq Meyer believed that Sri Lankan markets had enormous demand for the items including sports goods, surgical instruments, leather products, gloves of all sorts, textile items, sports wear, martial arts uniforms, musical instruments, kitchen ware, hollow ware, knives, cutlery items and military uniform badges produced in Sialkot. VS Sidath Kumar, Counsel General Sri Lankan High Commission gave a detailed briefing on Pak-Sri Lanka FTA, urging the Sialkot business community to divert their business activities to Sri Lanka. He said Sialkot exporters had a great potential to explore and capture the Sri Lankan trade markets by exporting their best quality traditional and non-traditional export items. Earlier, the Sri Lankan High Commissioner visited several leading industrial units in Sialkot, amid tight security. VS Sidath Kumar, SCCI Acting President Mir Farooq Meyer, Majid Aziz, former President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mir Nasir Abbas, Director General Asia & Europe TDAP were also present on the occasion.