Total exports from Sri Lanka to Pakistan have reached 75 million US Dollars since 2020, out of which 73 percent to 53 million US Dollars were exported under the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement, while Pakistan’s share was only 3 percent. Pakistani investors should increase investment under FTA. These views were expressed by Sri Lankan Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardana on the occasion of a visit to the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) with an 18-member high level government and trade delegation from Sri Lanka.
Also present on the occasion were Sri Lankan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya, Consul General Jagath Abeywarna, Director General Economic Affairs Division, Ministry of External Affairs Prof. Dr. Saj U Mendis, Chairman Sri Lanka State Trading Corporation Yogendra Perera, Director Commerce GL Gnanatheva, Patron-in-Chief KATI SM Muneer, President KATI Salman Aslam, KITE CEO Zubair Chhaya, Commercial Secretary, Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka Asma Kamal, Senior Vice President Maheen Salman, Vice President Farrukh Qandhari, Chairman UBG Sindh Khalid Tawab, a large number of KATI members including former presidents Saleem-uz-Zaman, Danish Khan, Masood Naqi, Sheikh Umar Rehan, Johar Qandhari, Farrukh Mazhar, Majeed Aziz, Muslim Mohammadi participated.
Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce Dr. Bandula Gunawardana said that real opportunities need to be seized to increase the trade volume between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The Free Trade Agreement between Sri Lanka and Pakistan was signed in 2005. However, the benefits of FTA are less than the actual potential. There is a need to increase the utilization rate between the two countries. He said that Pakistani exporters could export textiles, electronic products and coconut products to Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce added that the 2022 budget focuses on trade and economic growth, while Sri Lanka needs foreign exchange for economic growth.
On the occasion, Sri Lankan Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya said that the trade of 500 million US Dollars between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is far less than expected. He said that there are immense opportunities in the textile industry in Sri Lanka. Pakistan is a longtime friend of Sri Lanka, who has stood by in every difficult time. Special economic zones have been created for Pakistani investors. In addition, investments can be made in 5 IT parks. He said that there was a need to work in the field of tourism between the two countries and Sri Lankan tourists were unaware of the ancient Buddhist monuments in Pakistan.
The Sri Lankan Minister of State said that the business community of the two countries should consult regularly or at least every three months to explore opportunities for bilateral trade.
Earlier, the Patron-in-Chief of KATI SM Muneer expressed his sorrow over the Sialkot incident and expressed solidarity with Sri Lanka. He said that there were friendly relations between the people of Sri Lanka, and Pakistan strongly condemned such incidents and called for severe punishment for the culprits. He said that trade opportunities between the two countries should take advantage.
Speaking on the occasion, KATI President Salman Aslam emphasized that there are trade opportunities in the rice, vegetable, fruit and pharmaceutical industries. He assured the Minister of Commerce of Sri Lanka of his full support. He said that there was a need to increase the trade volume between the two countries. KATI will play her full role in this regard.
Speaking on the occasion, KITE CEO Zubair Chhaya said that Sri Lanka and Pakistan are both developing countries and both are facing the problem of foreign exchange reserves. He said we can make currency swaps to benefit from trade by doing business in local currencies. We will persuade the Governor SBP in this regard, he said. He invited the Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce to visit the Korangi Industrial Area.
The ceremony was also addressed by the Commercial Secretary at the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka Asma Kamal, Khalid Tawab, Majid Aziz, Maheen Salman and Farrukh Qandhari. Later business-to-business meetings were also held between the trade delegations of the two countries.
Photo caption: KATI President Salman Aslam presenting shield to Sri Lankan Trade Minister Dr. Bandula Gunawardana, Minister of State for Regional Cooperation Sri Lanka Tharaka Balasuriya, Consul General Jagath Abeywarna, Prof. Dr. Saj U Mendis, Yogendra Perera, Zubair Chhaya, Maheen Salman, Farrukh Qandhari, Khalid Tawab, Saleem-uz-Zaman, Masood Naqi, Shaikh Umer Rehan, Johar Qandhari, Asma Kamal, Majeed Aziz and others are also present.