“Pakistan our second largest SAARC partner”: Rishad

Tuesday, 7 April 2015 00:47 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Bilateral trade at $ 354 m Trade surged post-FTA: Rishad   As President Maithripala Sirisena’s three-day official tour kicked off on 5 April, a member of the delegation, Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen stated that Pakistan was Sri Lanka’s second largest trade partner. “After India, Pakistan is Sri Lanka’s second largest trade partner in SAARC. The visit of President Sirisena helps boost our bilateral trade,” said Bathiudeen on Sunday in Colombo, making a brief pre-departure comment to his officials. “Bilateral trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan grew significantly after 2005’s PSFTA. In 2014, our total trade stood at $ 354 m,” he added. The Pakistan Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) came into force in June 2005. Since then, the total trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan tripled to $ 462 m in 2013 from 2005’s $158 m, thereafter registering $ 354 m in 2014.                           Followed by India, Pakistan ranks as the second largest buyer of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region, accounting for 10% of Sri Lanka’s total exports to the region. Sri Lanka’s exports to Pakistan reached highest (at $ 83.05 m) in 2013. The active trade mechanism, Pakistan-Sri Lanka Joint Economic Commission was established in 1974 and the 11th Session was held in Colombo in November 2013. Pakistan now aims at $ 01 b in bilateral trade with Sri Lanka. Outgoing High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka two-star Major General (r) Qassim Qureshi during his meeting with Bathiudeen on 27 January in Colombo prior to his departure to Pakistan, revealed: “There is great upward trade potential that we can jointly explore beyond the current $ 460 m volume and therefore it is time to take steps to move towards $ 1 billion in bilateral trade, as our next trade goal. Sri Lanka was the first country with which Pakistan signed an FTA. This shows the importance Pakistan attaches to Sri Lanka in its regional policy.”