The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) along with High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka will host the Pakistan single-country exhibition in Colombo from January 15-17, with an aim to boost bilateral trade between the two countries. TDAP has prioritised sectors such as textile, pharmaceutical, engineering goods and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) at the exhibition.
Exhibitors from over 110 Pakistani companies will participate in the single country exhibition. Major Pakistan commercial establishments, among them - Toyota GT Motors, Pak Star Automotive Pvt. Ltd. and International Industries Limited (IIL) will have stalls along with manufacturers of furniture, marble and onyx ware, carpets and kilims as well as apparel and handicrafts. Coinciding with the exhibition will be a Pakistani Food Festival with live presentations by Pakistan’s celebrity Chef Mahboob and his associates.
Secretary, TDAP, Rabiya Javeri Agha speaking on the forthcoming exhibition said, “We are excited to host the Exhibition and hope to showcase the best manufacturing capability of our Country”. “This is a joint effort for both countries to establish connections between business communities” she explained.
She went on to note that imports from Pakistan will be doubled from the existing US$267 million to US$500 million this year. Pakistan’s top government body responsible for promoting exports, the TDAP aims to fully utilise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) came into effect in 2005. However Pakistan and Sri Lanka were unable to utilise it to its potential. “By effectively using the duty concessions under the Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan can easily double exports to Sri Lanka, in a year’s time” Javeri went on to note.
Javeri added: “We have given priority to certain sectors as we believe these are the areas where Pakistan has the potential to multiply its exports. Our next target will be to increase exports to US$1 billion within a few more years.”
The High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Maj. Gen. (R) Syed Shakeel Hussain said, “Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia. Sri Lanka was the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan, which became operational from June 12, 2005, allowing trade of 4,000 items between the two countries.”
Pakistan Bureau of Statistics data (2014-15) says Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka amounted to is US$267 million as compared to US$58 million worth imports from Sri Lanka.
Out of the total US$267 million worth of exports to Sri Lanka in fiscal year 2014-15, US$89 million or 33 percent constituted only cotton cloth – a traditional Pakistani export item.
The second and third top exported items to Sri Lanka were cement (US$37 million) and pharmaceuticals (US$20 million). Other mentionable products were vegetables, rice, value-added textile, bed wear and other commodities.
Pakistan has only utilised 29 percent of the FTA concessions so far, therefore, its target is to utilise the FTA first by exporting those products that have huge demand in Sri Lanka. Javeri said, “Sri Lanka mainly exports textile products while it imports bed wear, trousers, silk and synthetic textile and other ready-made garments. Pakistan’s exports are slowly growing and it can further increase its share. It is time Pakistan needed to move from traditional cotton cloth to value-added garments to increase its exports. Moreover, the engineering sector has a huge potential among top-25 products that Sri Lanka imports and Pakistan exports.”