Colombo Page - 21 September 2020
Pakistan seeks to boost trade with Sri Lanka to US$ 2 billion
The High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo held the first virtual business forum in collaboration with Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) to enhance awareness regarding trade and investment opportunities between the two friendly countries on 18th September, 2020.
In his remarks at the inaugural session, the High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Major General (Retd.) Muhammad Saad Khattak, appreciated the initiative taken by Prabhash Subasinghe, Chairman of Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) and his team in jointly organizing the webinar.
The High Commissioner emphasized that although bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Sri Lanka had witnessed a steady increase over the years, there is however an estimated potential to enhance the current volume of US$ 460 million to over US$ 2 billion. For this reason, he stressed the urgent need to take practical steps in overcoming constraints on both sides and to enhance business-to-business linkages, especially through organizing such online forums considering the current scenario of Covid-19 pandemic.
The High Commissioner further underscored the importance that Pakistan places on its longstanding close and friendly relations with Sri Lanka, which are based on mutual respect and close co-operation. The High Commissioner reiterated that Pakistan deeply values its first Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which was signed with Sri Lanka in 2005. He expressed the High Commission’s complete support and facilitation in developing deeper economic cooperation with Sri Lanka through optimal utilization of the Pakistan – Sri Lanka FTA, which is the major tool for trade promotion between the two countries.
The Commercial Secretary of Pakistan also delivered a detailed presentation on Pakistan’s economy and its trade and investment opportunities with Sri Lanka. She underlined the government’s strong reform agenda in positioning Pakistan globally as a business and investor friendly destination. She further highlighted the remarkable progress made by Pakistan on improving its ranking from 136th to 108th place on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index 2020, thereby being ranked as the 6th biggest reformer in the world.
While providing an analysis of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the Commercial Secretary identified priority sectors for exports by Pakistan into Sri Lanka including Portland cement, textile products, Basmati rice, pharmaceuticals, iron and steel products, dates, electrical fans, surgical and dental instruments amongst other. She further stressed the importance of joint ventures between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in sectors including tourism and hospitality, textile processing and productivity and construction.
Senior officials from Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Department of Commerce Sri Lanka and Board of Investment Sri Lanka also delivered sessions on import/ exports procedures and role of TDAP in Pakistan, export opportunities for Sri Lanka under the FTA and potential investment opportunities for Pakistan in Sri Lanka, respectively. The webinar witnessed significant interest from business representatives across various sectors from both Sri Lanka and Pakistan in live online viewership and participation in question and answer session at the end.