Apr 14 - 20, 2008

LAHORE: The total volume of trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka during 2001-02 was US$ 100.6 million and with increasing trend it had reached to US$ 230.5 million in 2005-06. Pakistan's major exports to Sri Lanka include cotton fabrics, rice, chemical products, cotton yarn and articles of iron and steel. On the other hand Sri Lanka's major exports to Pakistan are tea, coffee, oil seeds, rubber and rubber products.

Pakistan and Sri Lanka are lucrative investment locations for each other's exporters, as Pakistan is a gateway to resource-rich Central Asian States and Sri Lanka enjoys duty-free access to huge European and Indian markets.

This was the consensus developed at a meeting between Sri Lankan High Commissioner Dr Wijeratne Bandara Dorakumbure and President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Mohammad Ali Mian at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner said that under Generalised System of Preference (GSP) Sri Lank has a free access to huge European Market and under the regional pact it enjoys same facility with India that could be availed by Pakistani exporters for re-export to these markets. ""Both Pakistan and Sri Lank had signed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the FTA should be utilized to the maximum for the promotion of two-way trade," he said.

Sri Lanka has secured duty-free access for as many as 7200 products to the European Union Market under the EU's GSP Plus Scheme.

The main product categories which have vast potential in Sri Lanka under the GSP Plus Scheme include apparel and textiles, clothing accessories, sea foods, activated carbon, artificial flowers, foliage plants, rubber-based products tableware and bicycles. This is an ideal opportunity for Pakistani manufacturers who can do 25% value addition in Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan High Commissioner, who spent well over two hours at LCCI, said that Pakistani businessmen can also explore diverse opportunities available for them in Sri Lanka to manufacture products for exports to India under the Indo-Lanka Free Trade Agreement.

He said that electrical items, textile and garments, light engineering, mining, ceramics and gems and jewellery have huge investment opportunities for Pakistani businessmen.

LCCI President Mohammad Ali Mian said that Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry was making all-out efforts to increase the volume of two-way trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, there is a need that the Chambers of Commerce in the two countries should come forward to create a win-win situation for both the sides.

The LCCI President said that people-to-people contact, tourism links, exchange of business delegations, direct air-link between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and establishment of display centers in each other's countries can enhance the bilateral trade.

Mian said that there is a lot of scope for Sri Lankan industrialists for collaboration in various sectors such as rubber & rubber products, processing of fish, tea, tobacco and other agricultural commodities, cement, petroleum refining, gems & jewelry, education & human resource development etc.

He informed the Sri Lankan High Commissioner that Pakistan is strategically located and is a gateway to the markets of Central Asian Republics, China and Afghanistan. It would become the energy and trade hub for the regional countries with the construction of Gwadar Deep Seaport.