ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan Tuesday emphasized that Pakistan and Sri Lanka need to diversify their existing trading patterns by focusing on non-traditional items of import and export and by creating more trade linkages between provinces and regions within the two countries.
The Commerce Minister expressed these views as he called on Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe at Temple Trees in Sri Lanka, according to a message received here.
The Minister was accompanied by High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Maj Gen (R) Syed Shakeel Hussain and a high level official delegation.
The Sri Lankan Minister for Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, Sri Lankan Secretary Commerce and Industry T. M. K. B. Tennakoon and other high ranking officials were also present during the call on.
The Minister for Commerce thanked the government and the people of Sri Lanka for the warm welcome and the hospitality extended towards the Pakistani delegation.
He also conveyed the message of felicitations from Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to the Sri Lankan Prime Minister on his historic election victory and reelection as Prime Minister for the third term.
Khurram Dastgir Khan underlined that Sri Lanka enjoys the exceptional position of being the first country with which Pakistan entered into a Free Trade Agreement in 2002, which is reflective of the trust that Pakistan has in Sri Lanka’s economic potential.
The minister expressed the hope to broaden and deepen the bilateral FTA through the inclusion of services and investments in its ambit.
Khurram Dastgir Khan said that Pakistan is a GSP plus country which could be utilized and benefitted by the Sri Lankan businesses.
The minister assured that the Government of Pakistan is ready to allocate space to the Sri Lankan investors in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) that would entitle them to benefit from all the concessions and exemptions accorded to SEZs.
The minister said that Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy commonalities of views on major regional and global issues and have close cooperation in the regional and multilateral fora.
The minister requested the Prime Minister to ease visa facilities and issue multiple visas to Pakistani businessmen and investors to facilitate their travel to Sri Lanka on regular basis.
The minister also informed the Prime Minister that Pakistan, with more than 50 sugar mills and ability to produce sugar machinery, is in a position to invest in Sri Lanka to develop its sugar sector.
The two sides also agreed to further strengthen the bilateral economic cooperation between the two countries especially in cement, sugar, higher education and pharmaceutical sectors.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickramasinghe expressed the commitment of his government to further strengthen the already strong relationship between the two countries.
While appreciating Pakistan’s support to Sri Lanka, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan has been extending all out support to Sri Lanka at bilateral and international forums.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister welcomed the prospects of Pakistani investments in cement and sugar sectors and assured his government’s support to promote the bilateral trade.
During his Sri Lankan visit, the Commerce Minister will also call on Sri Lankan Minister for Public Administration, Ranjith Madduma Bandara, Minister for Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen and Minister for Megapolis and Western Development, Champika Ranawaka.
Khurram Dastgir Khan will also participate in the first official high level Business Interaction Forum between the two countries organized by the Export Development Board of Sri Lanka.
The Pakistan Sri Lanka Business Interaction Forum is planned to be held in Colombo on November 11, 2015, with the participation of prominent business representatives of both sides.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have maintained close, cordial and mutually supportive relations since 1948. The relationship is broad-based and multifaceted covering diverse fields like diplomatic, political, commercial, defence, people-to-people contacts and cultural exchange.