Monday, 2 December 2013 00:00
Speedy process of negotiations wraps talks a day ahead
“Let’s do this regularly!”: Rishad
“We attach great importance to Sri Lanka”: Minister Jatoi
The 11th Sri Lanka-Pakistan trade talks successfully concluded on 27 November, the day it commenced and a day ahead of the conclusion which was expected on 28 November.
“The Joint Economic Commission between our two countries should be held at regular intervals as convenient to both countries. This would certainly facilitate quick actions and seize emerging opportunities,” said Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen on 27 November.
Bathiudeen was addressing the closing ceremony of the 11th session of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission held at Waters Edge, Battaramulla. In attendance on the Sri Lankan side with Minister Bathiudeen were his top officials as well as 42 top officials from 28 Government ministries and departments, including the Ministries of Finance, Defence, Technology and Research, Higher Education, External Affairs, Industry and Commerce, Department of Commerce, Trade and Investment Policy, Atomic Energy Authority, Sri Lanka Standards Institute, EDB, BoI, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Customs.
On the Pakistani side were Economic Affairs Division Joint Secretary (EC) Dr. Asmat Nawaz, Ministry of Industries and Production Joint Secretary Abdul Sattar Khokhar, Ministry of Finance Joint Secretary (IF) Tanvir Ahmed Butt, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director Yasir Mehmood along with High Commissioner of Pakistan to Sri Lanka Maj. Gen. (R) Qasim Qureshi and his embassy staff.
High Commissioner of Sri Lanka in Pakistan Air Chief Marshal (R) Jayalath Weerakkody, Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie, Deputy Foreign Minister Hussain Baila, Secretary to the Ministry of External Affairs Karunatilaka Amunugama and Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce Anura Siriwardena were among the others attending the event.
The evening closed with a pleasant surprise for both sides, with Minister Bathiudeen being invited to cut and serve a Waters Edge cake that arrived at the ceremonial table to mark his 41st birthday falling on the same day, and many at the ceremony immediately joined in to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
The 27 November session was expected to continue through to a close on 28 November but since both sides were able to speedily resolve almost all pending matters by 27 November afternoon, the closing ceremony too was held on the same day evening at Waters Edge, Battaramulla. Agreed minutes of the session were signed by both sides at the evening’s closing ceremony.
With the establishment of the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries at Ministerial level back in 1974, 10 such Joint sessions were already concluded and the 11th session began on 27 November in Colombo further strengthening bilateral trade, economic, culture, education, and technical cooperation.
According to the Department of Commerce, Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region after India. The YoY bilateral trade has increased by 6% in 2012 to $ 433.69 m. A substantial growth in bilateral trade is seen in both exports and imports, especially after the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries was implemented in 2005.
The value of total trade between the two countries has increased by 174% from US$ 158 m in 2005 to US$ 433.69 m in 2012. From 2005 to the third quarter of 2013, FDI from Pakistan to Sri Lanka stood at $ 7.5 m (cumulative) across 25 investment projects (including Section 16).
“We are very happy to see that our two delegations were able to discuss and deliberate on each and every item of the agenda in detail in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, with a view to achieving the set objectives of the Joint Economic Commission. I would like to appreciate all the officials from both sides for their excellent and dedicated deliberations and contributions at this Joint Commission session. You would agree that it is very important to implement the decisions taken at this session, which have been incorporated into the minutes. I am confident that the relevant ministries and organisations will make their utmost efforts, to coordinate and follow-up the decisions and proposals in the agreed minutes as relevant to them,” said Minister Bathiudeen.
He added: “I am indeed very glad to mention that the successful conclusion of the 11th Session of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Joint Economic Commission marks another significant milestone, in the history of our long-standing friendly relations. I have no doubt that this session would pave the way to further widen deepen and strengthen the relations between Sri Lanka and Pakistan. I am sure you would join me in emphasising the fact that the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries should be held at regular intervals as convenient to both our countries. This would certainly facilitate quick actions and seize emerging opportunities which are of mutual interest to both countries.”
Pakistan committed to enhancing ties
“Pakistan attaches great importance to the Government of Sri Lanka and people of Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s leadership stands committed to enhancing our existing political and economic ties and works closely with the visionary leadership of Sri Lanka to achieve rapid development within the region. I see Sri Lanka as a potential popular tourist destination for the people of Pakistan,” said Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Pakistani Federal Minister of Industries and Production, addressing the ceremony.
“I am happy to note that SriLankan Airlines would be flying more often to Pakistan and that will increase the people to people contact and will have economic, social and cultural returns. I would like to emphasise upon cultural exchanges which have the potential of bringing our peoples even closer. During the course of proceedings, both sides had detailed deliberations and achieved mutual understanding on a broad spectrum of subjects,” Minister Jatoi added.