SL, Pak call to boost bilateral trade towards US$ 1 bn mark

2 November 2015 06:30 pm - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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Sri Lanka- Pakistan Business Council President Rohitha Thilakaratne is seen presenting the index of the Councils’ new committee members for the next year to Pakistan High Commissioner Syed Shakeel Hussain.
 Pic by Waruna Wanniarachchi



By Lahiru Pothmulla
The President of the Sri Lanka- Pakistan Business Council, Rohitha Thilakaratne said the FTA between the two countries has not been fully utilized yet, and that the stakeholder subcommittee would act as a technical committee to make sure that the FTA is fully functional.

He noted that trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan had significantly decreased over the years. 

“The exports from Sri Lanka to Pakistan were Rs. 83 million in 2013 but it had reduced to Rs. 75 million last year. The coming down of commodity prices globally is main cause for this decline,” he noted. 

Addressing the interactive meeting hosted by the Sri Lanka- Pakistan Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce under the theme ‘Pakistan Trade towards 1 billion USDs’, Thilakaratne said non-tariff barriers on imports from both sides, lack of promotion by each country and non-advocacy of initiatives in private sector of both sides could be major reasons for FTA issues. 

“The shareholder subcommittee will look into resolving these issues related with the FTA.  Also, an MOU is to be signed in this regard and initial agreement has been reached with our counterpart in Pakistan,” he said.  

Thilakaratne, who was appointed for another term as the Council’s President, said the Colombo Rubber Traders Association will make its submission to the subcommittee with regard to discriminatory valuation of raw rubber exports from Sri Lanka. 

“With the assistance of SL Customs and the Department of commerce, this matter has been taken to the highest level,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Chief Guest of the event, Pakistan High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Major General (Rtd) Syed Shakeel Hussain assured that the High Commission would facilitate smooth and effective trade for the business communities of the two countries in an effort to achieve US$1 billion trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 

The High Commissioner said they were looking into the visa related issues of businessmen, to make the process hassle-free. “This way, business delegations won’t have to wait for hours to obtain visa,” he stressed. 

   While requesting the business community to raise any issues with regard to trade in Pakistan with the High Commission, he said religious tourism in his country could be effectively promoted in Sri Lanka, especially among the Buddhist community.  

“What most of the media have failed to report and has a high potential is religious tourism in Pakistan. We already have Sikhs from India visiting Pakistan and similarly we could encourage Sri Lankan Buddhists to visit religious sites in Pakistan such as Taxila,” he said.
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