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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2705

Bigger Lanka-Pak trade in the offing

Colombo, 28 May, (Asiantribune.com):

As bilateral trade crossed $ 460 Mn mark, Sri Lanka’s second largest trade partner in SAARC hinted at bigger engagement with the country on 21 May –and post ‘JEC modalities’ between the historic partners are now moving towards their final shape.

“We look forward to expand FTA trade by reducing sensitive items, and the positive result of this would be more opportunities for Lankan exporters” said an upbeat Maj Gen (R) Qasim Qureshi, the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Colombo on 21 May.

Maj Gen (R) Qureshi was addressing Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka) on 21 May during his courtesy call on Minister Bathiudeen at the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Colombo 3.

Pakistan’s first ever international FTA partner was Sri Lanka when the Pakistan Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) came into force in June 2005. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the value of total trade between the two countries has increased by 330% during the last decade-from $ 107.10 Mn in 2003 to $ 462.12 Mn in 2013. Exports to Pakistan increased by 8% in 2013, in comparison to 2012’s $ 351 Mn. Sri Lanka’s main exports to Pakistan include natural rubber, copra, tea, coconut, spices and betel leaves while main imports are cement, cotton, wheat, cane / beet sugar, medicaments, and iron & steel.

Rises by 330% in 2003-’13 decade

• ‘Time for vigorous trade engagement!’-< Maj Gen (R) Qureshi

• “Thanks for reducing sensitive list’ – Rishad

• 2013 trade at $ 462 Mn

“It is time for a vigorous trade engagement effort between the two countries. We look forward to expand FTA trade by reducing sensitive items, and the positive result of this would be more opportunities for Lankan exporters” said Maj Gen (R) Qureshi, addressing Minister Bathiudeen, and revealed: “I am pleased to inform you that the composition of Pakistani working group for this year’s Ministerial level Joint Economic Commission session has now been finalised. The teams will span across four sectors-automotives, investment, customs cooperation and trade.”

Responding to Maj Gen (R) Qureshi, Minister Bathiudeen said: “A range of new Lankan products have penetrated into the Pakistan market after the implementation of the PSFTA. Among them are fresh pineapple, MDF boards, sports goods, tamarind, edible oil, porcelain tableware & kitchenware, ceramic tiles, furniture, electrical switches & sockets, and herbal cosmetic products. We thank Pakistan for granting of 50% MOP for our exports of betel leaves under PSFTA as result of 2013 November JEC talks in Colombo. I and my officials are looking forward to stronger bilateral trade once we complete this year’s JEC talks by this December.”

The 11th session of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission was held at The Kingsbury, Colombo on 27 November, 2013. It covered a wide range of subjects, including trade in goods, services, agriculture, tourism, science and technology, education and air services, and technical assistance. In attendance from the Sri Lankan side (along with Minister Bathiudeen) were his own 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, and Atomic Energy Authority. During the successful technical sessions that followed on the same day, the Lankan side was led by Secretary, Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena, while the Pakistani side was led by Joint Secretary-Ministry of Commerce Robina Athar.

On 21 May, both Maj Gen (R) Qureshi and Minister Bathiudeen also discussed modalities of the last JEC in view of this year’s forthcoming JEC sessions.

- Asian Tribune -

Rishad Bathiudeen (Minister of Industry and Commerce of Sri Lanka-left) discusses with Maj Gen (R) Qasim Qureshi (the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Colombo) on 21 May.
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