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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2556

11th Lanka-Pakistan trade talks begin in Colombo

Colombo,18 December, (Asiantribune.com):

The 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission has commenced in Colombo on 27 November. And Lankan officials informed that outcomes in many issues that came under discussion as of mid-day 27 November, have been positive.

“The business communities, of both the countries need to play a vital role in this process. This would of course, demands the business entrepreneurs of the two countries to engage themselves in vibrant and vigorous trade and investment promotional activities” said Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka on 27 November in Colombo.

Minister Bathiudeen was addressing the opening event of the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission held at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo. In attendance at Sri Lankan side with Minister Bathideen were his top officials as well as 42 top officials from 28 government Ministries and Departments-including the Ministries of Finance, Defence, Technology and Research, Higher Education, External Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Department of Commerce, Trade and Investment Policy, Atomic Energy Authority, Sri Lanka Standards Institute, EDB, BoI, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Customs. During the technical sessions that commenced by 10:00 am, the Sri Lankan side was led by Anura Siriwardena, Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce while the Pakistani side was led by Ms Robina Athar (Joint Secretary-Ministry of Commerce). Also on the Pakistani side were Dr. Asmat Nawaz (Joint Secretary (EC)-Economic Affairs Division), Abdul Sattar Khokhar (Joint Secretary-Ministry of Industries & Production), Tanvir Ahmed Butt (Joint Secretary (IF)-Ministry of Finance), Yasir Mehmood (Director-Ministry of Foreign Affairs) along with (HE) Maj Gen (R) Qasim Qureshi,(High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka and his embassy staff).

With the establishment of the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries at Ministerial level back in 1974, 10 such Joint sessions were already concluded and the 11th session took place on 27 November in Colombo further strengthening bilateral trade, economic, culture, education, and technical cooperation.

According to the Department of Commerce, Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region after India. The YoY bilateral trade has increased by 6% in 2012 to $ 433.69 Mn. A substantial growth in bilateral trade is seen in both exports and imports, especially after Free Trade Agreement between the two countries was implemented in 2005. The value of total trade between the two countries has increased by 174% from US $ 158 Mn in 2005 to US $. 433.69 Mn in 2012. From 2005 to the third quarter of 2013, FDI from Pakistan to Sri Lanka stood at $ 7.5 Mn (cumulative) across 25 investment projects (including Section 16).

• 28 Govt. Ministries & Depts represent Lankan side at talks!

• ‘Remarkable progress on trade!’ - Rishad

• Bilateral trade rise by 6%, at $ 433.6 Mn

• ‘Pakistan’s new government keen on regional trade!’ – Minister Jatoi

“We have seen a remarkable progress on bilateral trade, specially after the implementation of, the Free Trade Agreement in 2005. Our bilateral trade has, increased from US dollars 147 million, in 2004 to US dollars 434 million, in 2012” said Minister Bathiudeen, and added: “This increasing trend is a clear indication of the potential that exists between our two countries for further improvements in bilateral trade. The business communities of both the countries also need to play a vital role in this process. This would of course demands the business entrepreneurs of the two countries to engage themselves in vibrant and vigorous trade and investment promotional activities on a sustainable manner. We, as governments, need to create a conducive environment and encourage them in this process. I am confident that during these sessions we will be able to discuss all these agenda items and arrive at understandings and decisions that are beneficial for both Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The visit of His Excellency the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Sri Lanka in November 2010 and the visit of our President His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa to Pakistan last year opened new chapters, in the centuries old friendship, and relations. During these visits the Presidents of our two countries agreed that the historic relations and common understanding of our two countries provided a firm foundation, to build a vibrant, and multi-faceted partnership. We were delighted to welcome (HE) Nawaz Sheriff the Prime Minister of Pakistan to Sri Lanka with his delegation to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Colombo. These high level visits have renewed and enhanced our bilateral relations in diverse fields which are of importance, to both our nations.”

Addressing the event, Pakistani Federal Minister of Industries & Production Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi said: “The new elected government is very keen to strengthen relationship with countries in the region and Sri Lanka remains one of the important neighbours. This session would definitely offer an opportunity for us to move forward together in trade, commerce, banking and finance, agriculture, science and technology, and other sectors. Despite concluding FTA in 2002, there is certainly a need for taking concrete measures for increasing and diversifying international trade. It is heartening to note that the fifth technical level meeting on Pakistan Sri Lanka FTA and Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement was held between the two countries in April 2013 at Islamabad. Pakistan lies at the cross roads of central and West Asia. Besides being a big market of more than 180 million people, it is also a neighbour to big emerging economies like India and China. This geographical location of Pakistan coupled with a friendly liberal investment policy offers ideal and enormous opportunities for Sri Lankan investment in Pakistan. Despite internal and external challenges such as the war against terror, severe energy crises and phenomenal surge in commodity prices over the past few years, Pakistan has been able to maintain a reasonable growth trajectory. The economy on average grew since 2008-09 at around 3% has now fixed a GDP growth target of 4-5% during the next financial year taking it to 6-7%. Pakistan has embarked upon a major reform programme that aims at fiscal stabilisation, mobilising domestic resources, phasing out subsidies, restructuring power sector and strengthening the social safety nets.”

- Asian Tribune -

Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi (Pakistani Federal Minister of Industries & Production-right) and Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce-left) discuss just prior to the start of the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission in Colombo on 27 November.
Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi (Pakistani Federal Minister of Industries & Production-second from right) and Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce-left) arrive at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo for the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission on 27 November.
Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce-far right) addresses the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission on 27 November at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo.
Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce-far right) addresses the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission on 27 November at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo.
Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi (Pakistani Federal Minister of Industries & Production-second from right) and his team of officials including (HE) Maj Gen (R) Qasim Qureshi,(High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka (far right) at Kingsbury Hotel, Colombo for the 11th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission on 27 November.
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