At the invitation of President Maithripala Sirisena, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will undertake an official visit to Sri Lanka from 4 to 6 January.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Madam Begum Kalsoom Sharif will be welcomed on their arrival today at the Bandaranaike International Airport by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.
On 5 January, an official welcome ceremony presided over by President Maithripala Sirisena will be held at the Presidential Secretariat in Colombo. The visiting Prime Minister will be accorded a ceremonial welcome including a Gun Salute and Guard of Honour.
President Maithripala Sirisena will lead the official bilateral discussions with the visiting Prime Minister. The delegation for the talks will include the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and Senior Government officials. President Maithripala Sirisena will host a State Banquet, and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will host a lunch in honour of the visiting Prime Minister.
On the invitation of the Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKIIRSS), Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will deliver a special lecture on “Sri Lanka-Pakistan Relations” at the Cinnamon Lakeside Hotel on Tuesday.
During his stay in Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is scheduled to visit the historic city of Kandy and pay homage to the Sacred Tooth Relic, and also visit a Muslim Mosque and the Jinnah Centre in Kandy. He will also visit the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens and will plant a “Karanda” tree (Pongamia pinnata) to commemorate his visit to Sri Lanka.
President Maithripala Sirisena undertook a State visit to Pakistan from 5-7 April, 2015. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif visited Sri Lanka in 2013 to participate in the Commonwealth Heads of State Meeting and in November 2010, President Asif Ali Zardari, paid a State visit to Sri Lanka.
Several bilateral instruments in the areas of Health, Science & Technology, Trade, Statistics, Gem and Jewellery, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, and Culture are envisaged to be signed during the visit.
According to a senior official in the Pakistan Ministry of Commerce, an agreement will be signed between the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and the Sri Lankan Export Development Board in a bid to promote trade and exchange delegations between the two sides.
Another MoU will be between the Pakistan Institute of Fashion Design and the Sri Lankan Gems and Jewellery Training and Research Institute for imparting training to Pakistani students.The Sri Lankan institute has expertise in gems cutting and polishing and many Pakistani students will benefit from this expertise.
Pakistan wants to increase quota for rice exports to Sri Lanka from 6,000 to 10,000 tons. In exchange, Sri Lanka is seeking to enhance export of tea and rubber to Pakistan.
During the PM’s visit, the sixth secretary-level technical talks will be held between trade officials of the two sides on various technical and trade-related matters.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka already have a free trade agreement (FTA) in place since 2005, but are eager to further liberalise the partnership in order to expand scope of the FTA from goods to services and investment.
The two sides are also expected to discuss enhancing business-to-business partnership. In this regard, Pakistani traders will organise a single-country exhibition in Colombo from 15-17 January, which will showcase the commodities produced in Pakistan. Similarly, Sri Lankan businessmen will also hold a trade show in Pakistan.
The FTA with Sri Lanka has a significant importance because it was the first trade accord Pakistan signed with any country. Apart from this, Colombo is one of the closest business partners of Islamabad among regional nations as ties with India and Bangladesh often turn sour and hurt trade relationships.
At present, the volume of trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is $350 million, which the two countries want to increase to $1 billion by expanding its scope.
According to a Commerce Ministry official Sri Lanka has an edge in export of finished and made-up garments whereas Pakistan’s strength is in fabrics and textile products.
“It will be a big breakthrough if they succeed in including services and investments in the FTA,” the official said.
Sri Lanka’s cabinet has granted approval to sign the following agreements with Pakistan:
An agreement between the Sri Lankan Ministry of National Policies and Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Youth Affairs of the Republic of Pakistan on cooperation in the youth development field
An MoU on exchange of statistical and census data between Sri Lanka and Pakistan
An MoU on co operation in science, technology and innovations between the Ministry of Science, Technology and Research in Sri Lanka and the Ministry of Science and Technology in Pakistan
An MoU between the National Science Foundation in Sri Lanka and the Science Foundation in Pakistan on scientific and technological cooperation
An MoU between the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Export Development Board of Sri Lanka
An agreement between the two countries on cooperation in the health sector.
An MoU between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on cooperation in the cultural field
An MoU between the Institute of Fashion and Design in Pakistan and the Gem and Jewellery Research Training Institute of Sri Lanka
An MoU between Pakistan and Sri Lanka concerning cooperation in the exchange of financial intelligence related to money laundering and terrorism financing
An Agreement between Pakistan and Sri Lanka for bilateral cooperation on prevention and deterrence of money laundering and terrorist financing