A high level 17-member Sri Lankan business delegation on Monday held meetings with their Pakistani counterparts at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry seeking to expand the existing trade relations.
The delegation was headed by Prasanna Jayasinghe while LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Vice President Nasir Saeed and Executive Committee Members also spoke on the occasion.
LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad and the Sri Lankan delegation agreed to make joint efforts to enhance existing trade volume, a statement here said.
Leader of the Sri Lankan delegation Prasanna Jayasinghe said that there was a vast scope for the expansion of two-way trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in the presence of Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries to further strengthen their multifaceted and multi-sectoral cooperation in the fields of herbal medicine, gem and jewellery, culture, commerce and trade, science and technology and tourism.
He was full of praise for Pakistan government and people for their moral support to Sri Lanka on every issue. He, however, said that except for trade, everything else was fine between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
He said that Sri Lanka offer huge opportunities in gems and jewellery, rubber, garments, hospitality, services and there was a need to take advantage by liberal trade policies of the Sri Lankan Government.
LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad said that the ideal and friendly relationship between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is based on historical and cultural links as well as common understanding on a wide range of bilateral, regional and international issues.
He said that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are members of SAARC and are enjoying good cordial relations. He said that both countries are old trade partners and Sri Lanka ranked 19th in the export destinations of Pakistan.
He said that existing trade volume is not at par with the potential of the two countries. He said that Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka have declined to $ 266 million in 2014 from $ 316 million in 2013.
“Pakistan and Sri Lanka are lucrative investment locations for each other’s exporters as on the one hand Pakistan is a gateway to resource-rich Central Asian States while on the other Sri Lanka enjoys easy access to huge European and Indian markets”, the LCCI President added.
He also called for collaboration in construction, sugar, cement, paper and paper board, electronics, software development, food processing and preservation, dairy products and storage tanks, mineral mining, handicrafts, gems and jewellery and livestock breeding.
He said the business community of the two countries should keep on exploring the opportunities of mutual interest. He said that business delegations composed of sector-specific participants or product-specific group of entrepreneurs should be organised regularly. Business houses and diplomatic missions could always join hands to yield tangible results, he added.