FAISALABAD: Cricket diplomacy will be exploited to give a quantum jump to the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, said Sri Lanka High Commissioner Noordeen Mohammad Shahid.
Addressing the business community at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Wednesday, he said Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has tasked him to enhance bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
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Shahid said sports could be utilised to enhance trade between the two countries to new heights. He said Pakistan is the first country in the SAARC bloc that has inked a free trade agreement with Sri Lanka. Procedural hurdles in the promotion of trade would further be removed in consultation with the Pakistani government, he added.
The Sri Lankan high commissioner further said Sri Lanka also enjoys GSP plus status from the European Union (EU) and Pakistan’s garment manufacturers should set up their units in new export processing zones being developed in Jaffna, Trincomalee and Kalpitiya.
Responding to a question about Sri Lankan tea, he said Pakistanis generally like black tea, which is also grown in Sri Lanka. Currently, the share of Sri Lankan tea in Pakistani tea market is only 2%, he said, adding, he intends to enhance it up to 20% during the next 12 months. “I am negotiating with 200 major superstores in Lahore for the sale of Sri Lankan black tea,” he added.
Also speaking on the occasion, FCCI Vice President Ehtisham Javed said Sri Lanka is the second biggest trade partner of Pakistan among SAARC countries. Our bilateral trade volume is only $370 million, he said, and added that Pakistan is making exports to the tune of $304 million, while Sri Lankan imports are dwindling at only $66 million. Thus, the trade balance is in the favour of Pakistan, he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 10th, 2019.