KARACHI: Consul General of Sri Lanka G. L. Gnanatheva, while suggesting numerous measures for enhancing trade and investment ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, asked the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) to send a delegation to Sri Lanka to explore trade and investment opportunities, besides seek ways and means on how to improve this existing ties with the Sri Lankan business community.
Speaking at a meeting during his visit to KCCI, he stressed that the business communities of Pakistan and Sri Lanka will have to make collective efforts to improve the trade volume by exploring more trade opportunities and defining a clear roadmap for growth in trade, investment and exports. President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail and Managing Committee Members attended the meeting. Sri Lankan CG further stated that Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been enjoying good relations and were undoubtedly the best partners as Sri Lanka has the honor of being the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with Pakistan.
Referring to recent visit of Sri Lankan cricket team to Pakistan, he said that they absolutely had no problems during their visit and the Sri Lankan team will once again be here to play the test matches as well. He said that Sri Lanka offers a lot of trade and investment opportunities as the country has producing some high-end products being exported to many developed western countries. Highlighting Sri Lanka’s Free Trade Agreements with numerous countries around the world, he said that the business community of Karachi must look into the possibility of enhancing trade and investment ties with Sri Lanka which can be used as a gateway to Europe, United States, United Kingdom and Canada etc. where Pakistani goods can also have a duty free access if sent from Sri Lanka.
Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while referring to economic relations between Pakistan and Sri Lanka, said that both countries share cordial and healthy bilateral relations based on cooperation in different economic spheres.
“During 2018, goods exported by Pakistan to Sri Lanka totaled $354.53 million as against $268.92 million in 2017, depicting an increase of 31.8 percent while goods imported by Pakistan from Sri Lanka were recorded at $104.96 million in 2018, registering a growth of 1.6 percent as compared to $103.35 million in 2017. Although some improvement is being witnessed but the overall trade volume was way too low as compared to the potential which requires collective efforts from both sides”, he added. He was of the opinion that specific targets have to be set to enhance trade ties by focusing on those products and sectors in which the both the neighboring countries have comparative advantage. “60 percent of the world’s population lives in this region hence, we will have to work together to tap this gigantic market”, he added.
Referring to Sri Lankan exports of high-end products particularly coconut water being exported to numerous western countries, he opined that Pakistan was also a very good market for such products while the two countries must collaborate for training of Pakistani workforce in the Gems & Jewelry sector by Sri Lankan experts in this particular field as they have adopted modern techniques for production of captivating products in this particular sector.
He stressed that that businessmen and investors will have to look for opportunities in the agriculture, textile, tourism, real estate, energy and IT sectors which are attractive investment sectors in both countries. There is a need to boost air and maritime linkages between both countries so that cooperation in business and industry could be strengthened.
Emphasizing the need to promote business, mutual understanding and friendly relations between the business communities of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Agha Shahab suggested more interaction with peer Chambers in Sri Lanka and frequent exchange of business delegations to explore more avenues for enhancing trade and investment cooperation.