Maj Gen (R) Qureshi expressed these views when he called on Rishad Bathiudeen, Minister of Industry and Commerce in Colombo recently.
Pakistan’s first ever international FTA partner was Sri Lanka when the Pakistan Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) came into force in June 2005. According to the Department of Commerce of Sri Lanka, the value of total trade between the two countries has increased by 330% during the last decade-from $ 107.10 Mn in 2003 to $ 462.12 Mn in 2013. Exports to Pakistan increased by 8% in 2013, in comparison to 2012’s $ 351 Mn. Sri Lanka’s main exports to Pakistan include natural rubber, copra, tea, coconut, spices and betel leaves while main imports are cement, cotton, wheat, cane / beet sugar, medicament, and iron & steel.
“Tha Ambassador further said that it is time for a vigorous trade engagement effort between the two countries and Pakistan looks forward to expand FTA trade by reducing sensitive items the thereby giving more opportunities for Lankan exporters. He further added that composition of Pakistani working group for this year’s Ministerial level Joint Economic Commission session has now been finalised and the teams will span across four sectors-automotives, investment, customs cooperation and trade.”
Responding to Maj Gen (R) Qureshi, Minister Bathiudeen said: “A range of new Lankan products have penetrated into the Pakistan market after the implementation of the PSFTA. Among them are fresh pineapple, MDF boards, sports goods, tamarind, edible oil, porcelain tableware & kitchenware, ceramic tiles, furniture, electrical switches & sockets, and herbal cosmetic products. We thank Pakistan for granting of 50% MOP for our exports of betel leaves under PSFTA as result of 2013 November JEC talks in Colombo. I and my officials are looking forward to stronger bilateral trade once we complete this year’s JEC talks by this December.”
Minister Bathiudeen and Maj Gen (R) Qureshi also discussed modalities of the last JEC in view of this year’s forthcoming JEC sessions.