Sri Lankan High Commissioner Air Chief Marshal (retd) Jayalath Weerakoddy has invited Pakistani businessmen to take part in an international exhibition to be held in Sri Lanka in March, as it will offer unique trade and investment opportunities to foreign businessmen.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday, he said the Sri Lankan government had designed a special package for foreign businessmen, adding they were making efforts to take the trade volume with Pakistan to $1 billion.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka signed a free trade agreement in 2005, according to which Pakistan has granted 100 per cent tariff concession on its 227 tariff lines while Sri Lanka has waived tariffs on 102 items.
The high commissioner said there was no doubt that Sri Lanka had been in bad shape from 2005 to 2009 due to internal strife, but after that it made marvelous progress and achieved strong economic growth. “Today, its per capita income stands at $2,600.”
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said Pakistan was the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the Saarc region. Trade between the two countries rose 24 per cent to $337 million in 2010 compared to $273 million in 2009. In the period, Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka grew 31% to $284 million.
However, in contrast to the growth in exports, imports from Sri Lanka fell from $66 million to $53 million from 2008 to 2010. Sheikh was of the view that the two countries could take trade to $2 billion by the end of 2012 keeping in view the actual potential.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 5th, 2012.
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