Sri Lanka - Pakistan FTA review talks begin in Sri Lanka
Talks between Sri Lanka and Pakistan on aspects of the bilateral FTA have begun in Colombo on August 17. The Secretarial Level Meeting scheduled to be concluded today reviews several bilateral trade aspects and also focuses on the possibility of mutual tariff concession entitlements on selected items.
"I like to observe that Sri Lanka and Pakistan have progressed well in the field of commerce. Trade between the two countries have gained a fresh impetus in the aftermath of heads of state level meeting of November 2010. Today Pakistan is Sri Lanka's second largest trade partner in the South Asian region. The excellent relationship enjoyed by both sides at political and technical levels could be instrumental in this session becoming successful" said Industry and Commerce Ministry Secretary Tilak Collure, commencing the fourth Technical Level Meeting between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on PSFTA negotiations.
In response, Pakistani Commerce Ministry Secretary Zafar Mahmood said, "Sri Lanka was the first country that Pakistan signed an FTA with. In the recent India-Pakistan bilateral Commerce Secretary level meeting, it was decided to normalise the trade relations between us and India which I believe as a positive trend. We need to enlarge to scope of Lanka-Pakistan FTA through meetings such as this. We would like to make this a continuous and an uninterruptible process. We can now further build on the existing high level relations and current deliberations will help us to delve deeper into the bilateral relations."
"I visited Sri Lanka no less than three times and all these trips were very pleasant and productive. I know for certain that the outcome of these talks too will be very positive," Mahmood said.
The decision to hold this meeting was officially reached by both Sri Lanka and Pakistan jointly at the Ministerial Level (trade) session between both countries on July 4-5, 2011 in Islamabad as the two South Asian countries met to revive the "Sri Lanka - Pakistan Joint Economic Commission". Previously, during the state visit of Islamic Republic of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Sri Lanka from November 27-30, 2010, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa agreed to hold the 10th session of JEC in the first quarter of 2011 to be co-chaired at Ministerial Level.
On July 4 and 5, Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Finance and Economic Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar and Sri Lanka's Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen led the bilateral sessions representing their respective countries. Both Ministers agreed to hold the next meeting of JEC in Colombo in 2012. Upon detailed review of implementation status of decisions taken at the ninth Session of Pak-Sri Lanka Joint Economic Commission, both sides agreed that the implementation status of JEC is satisfactory to Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
During the July sessions in Islamabad, the Sri Lankan delegation was also looking to reduce tariffs imposed by Pakistan on Sri Lankan agro products, coconut based products and Betel leaves in Pakistan.
Sri Lanka Business News | Online edition of Daily News - Lakehouse Newspapers