Shakeel Hussain addressing the forum
High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Maj. Gen. (R) Syed Shakeel Hussain said that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are important partners not only in promoting bilateral trade and economic interactions but also enhancing regional economic integration through SAARC and SAFTA.
Hussain said this while addressing the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum organised by the Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka in collaboration with Pakistan Sri Lanka Business Council of Karachi, in Colombo recently.
The High Commissioner highlighted that the Government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attaches great importance to regional economic integration through revitalisation of SAARC which epitomises the hopes and aspirations of the peoples of our region, for peace, progress and prosperity.
While explaining the strategic location of Pakistan at the confluence of South Asia, West Asia and Central Asia, he said that Pakistan is a natural economic corridor for the region. He highlighted that the Government of Pakistan is actively pursuing the initiative of the Economic Corridor which has the potential to integrate South Asia, China, and Central Asia which are three engines of growth in Asia. He added that building TAPI gas pipeline and CASA 1000 electricity transmission line are the two most significant projects under Pakistan’s initiative to promote regional connectivity.
On Pakistan Sri Lankan bilateral trade, Hussain elaborated that despite availability of tariff concessions on more than 4,000 tariff lines on both sides, bilateral trade is still taking place on a very narrow band of products with very little diversification. He urged the private sectors of the two countries to forge deeper links by becoming part of bilateral supply chains. He also invited Sri Lankan companies to invest in Pakistan’s energy, construction and resort development sectors.
He underscored that during the visit of Maithripala Sirisena to Pakistan in April, the leadership of Pakistan and Sri Lanka decided to enhance the bilateral trade to $ 1 billion. He added that the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum is an important milestone in achieving this goal in the shortest possible time.
The Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum was also addressed by Board of Investment Sri Lanka Chairman Upul Jayasuriya, General Director of Commerce Sonali Wijeratne, Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Council Colombo President Rohitha Thilakaratne and Imran Khalil from Karachi chapters amongst others. The inaugural session was followed by a question and answer session during which the participants asked questions about the investment regulations in Sri Lanka.
A 20-member business delegation from Pakistan led by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry is currently visiting Sri Lanka to participate in Sri Lanka-Pakistan Trade and Investment Forum and to meet Lankan business community with the aim to enhance bilateral trade and investment relations between the two brotherly countries.
The delegation includes representatives from different sectors like textiles, basmati rice, engineering goods, fruits, food stuff, mineral products, debt and equity, machinery equipment, cotton yarn, woven fabric iron, steel, pharmaceutical products, rags, carpets industry, shoes, leather products, denim fabric and garments, leather garments, electronics and surgical items, petroleum, sugar, cement and automobile industry.
In a separate development, the business delegation visited the High Commission of Pakistan in Colombo for an interactive session.