Sri Lankan envoy keen to enhance bilateral trade upto $800 million with Pakistan

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Sri Lankan envoy keen to enhance bilateral trade upto $800 million with Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, MAR 19 /DNA/ – High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Ravindra Chandrasiri Wijegunaratne has said that he is keen to enhance the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka up to $800 million, for which the potential in various sectors in both countries has to be exploited.

At present, the bilateral trade potential between the two countries is $1 billion, which is achievable, but he is committed to take the bilateral trade to the target of $800 million  during his tenure.

The High Commissioner said this while talking to a delegation of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) led by its President Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari.

Former President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry and United Business Group, FPCCI Secretary General, Zafar Bakhtawari and Executive Member of ICCI, Amir Hamza were also included in the delegation.

The envoy said that the bilateral trade between the two countries was $400 million last year, which was less than that of $510 million in year 2018. He added that Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005, which was Pakistan’s first FTA with any country.

He said that there are multiple cooperation opportunities between the two countries especially in agriculture, industry, tourism and religious tourism.

The envoy further said that geo-strategically Pakistan is of utmost importance especially its land link with Central Asia and that its economic integration is also very useful for Sri Lanka. He expressed the hope that strengthening of economic and trade relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka will take the bilateral trade between the two countries to a higher level once again.

The High Commissioner said that at one time Pakistan used to import 70 percent of Tea from Sri Lanka, which has now reduced to 2 percent , which needs to be increased.

The envoy went on to say that Pakistan’s Basmati Rice and Citrus are very popular in Sri Lanka so Pakistan’s trade in this field can be increased.

He said that Pakistan has many opportunities in religious tourism for Sri Lankans, there are Buddha relics from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Taxila. He said that 5 flights are coming to Karachi and Lahore every week from Sri Lanka, which can have a good impact on tourism and trade.

He further said that a ceremony will be held at the beginning of the new year of Sri Lanka in coming April 24, and a Sri Lankan restaurant will be opened in any major city including Islamabad and Lahore.

On this occasion, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, President Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari said that the Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was signed in 2005, but its true potential has not been exploited.