”Pakistan’s new GSP with EU is an opportunity for Sri Lankan exporters, and they can do more things. In fact, we should jointly explore whatever is possible within the rules and regulations of t hese new developments, said Pakistan High Commissioner to Sri Lanka Major General Qasim Qureshi, addressing Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen during his new-year courtesy call on the Minister.
Addressing Minister Bathiudeen, Qureshi said, “We believe that there is strong unrealized trade potential between both countries. Through the Joint Economic Commission, we annually review our trade progress of our FTA so that it becomes increasingly ‘commercefriendly’ for both countries. And there is a trade imbalance between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and we want to reduce that.
Which means that we should also explore avenues and ways in which more products from Sri Lanka are exported to Pakistan.”
“So what we want to do is to expand the bilateral trade from the present annual level of $ 440 million to $ 1 billion in the coming years-perhaps even in a couple of years.
The way to do this is by exploring areas where we can see new trading starts between the two countries in not just the traditional trade items but also to look at new items and new products.
Also, Pakistan’s new GSP with EU is an opportunity for Sri Lankan exporters and they can do more things. Of course the rules of origin are from Pakistan. For example, Sri Lankan exporters can consider more raw material exports to Pakistani industries that are manufacturing to EU using this GSP. In fact, we should jointly explore whatever is possible within the rules and regulations of these new developments.”
According to the Department of Commerce, Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region after India.
Lankan exports to Pakistan topped $ 42.97 mn from January to June in 2013 and more importantly, registered a 27 percent surge from 2010’s $ 60.38 mn to $ 82.75 mn by 2012. The total trade has increased from US $ 158 mn in 2005 to US $. 433.69 mn in 2012 (and from January to June 2013, at $289.23 mn). The balance of trade has always been in favour of Pakistan.
Speaking on investments, Qureshi said, “We are also looking into getting new investments from Pakistan to Sri Lanka because we think that it is not only just commerce but mutual investments too can strengthen bilateral economic relations.
We are looking at some areas where we can bring investment from Pakistan to Sri Lanka and we are now keenly looking at the sugar industry in Sri Lanka for new investments.”
“I believe that in the coming year, we should maximize all opportunities presented by our FTA and enhance our bilateral trade levels.
Our exporters are already leveraging the PSFTA and it is time our exporters try on new product exports since there are more than 4800 product lines available to them under this PSFTA,” Bathiudeen said.