Colombo, Oct 19 (newsin.asia) – Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to increase trade and investment relations under the existing Free Trade Agreement in order to reach the target of US 1 billion dollars trade by 2018, a Foreign Ministry statement said here Thursday.
In the recent Sri Lanka, Pakistan Foreign Office Consultations held in Colombo this week, the two countries decided to use the FTA to its maximum potential in order to benefit both countries.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed a Free Trade Agreement in July 2002 and it became operational in June 2005.
Following the signing, Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka grew from US 154 million dollars in 2004 to US 316 million dollars in 2013. Sri Lanka’s exports to Pakistan grew from US 46 million dollars to US 63 million dollars between 2004 and 2013.
The Foreign Office consultations which were held after a lapse of three years was co chaired by the foreign secretaries of both countries.
During discussions, a wide range of issues including trade and investment, tourism, science and technology, education, defence and sports were also discussed.
Means to utilizing credit line facilities offered by Pakistan in priority projects in areas such as housing, livestock and science and technology were also discussed, the statement said.
In addition, the ongoing close defence cooperation between the two countries, in particular, training requirements of the armed forces, was reviewed, for further strengthening and immigration procedures between the two countries were discussed with a view to streamlining processes to avoid bottle-necks and misuse.
Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua who arrived in Sri Lanka to co chair the consultations met President Maithripala Sirisena earlier this week. During the talks, Sirisena requested Pakistan to invest in Sri Lanka’s sugar and cement industries as there was a huge requirement of sugar and cement in the island country.
Sirisena pointed out that currently Sri Lanka produces only 20 percent of the sugar requirement.
He also emphasized the need for further expanding economic relations between the two countries.
(The picture above shows Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua being greeted by her Sri Lankan counterpart, Prasad Kariyawasam at the Foreign Ministry in Colombo)