Sri Lanka keen to enhance bilateral trade: High Commissioner

FAISALABAD:High Commissioner of Sri Lanka, Vice Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama on Thursday said that Sri Lanka was trying its optimum best to enhance the volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka in addition to maintaining a strategic balance between imports and exports of the two countries.

While addressing the business community of Faisalabad in Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Thursday, he said that Sri Lanka is the second largest trade partner of Pakistan in South Asia. “Our potential is 2.5 billion dollars but our bilateral trade is stuck up at 388 million dollars”, he said, and added that Sri Lankan exports to Pakistan were only 64 million dollars and he intended to enhance it to a reasonable level. He further said that Pakistan inked its first Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Sri Lanka providing duty free access to each other.

He said that Pakistan imported 10 million tons of black tea under this agreement which reflect “our close relations”.

About friendly relations between the two countries, he said that both countries share many commonalities including threat of terrorism.

” However, we successfully cooperated and reined in this menace”, he said. Referring to the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan, he said that its ultimate objective was to enhance bilateral trade.

In continuation, he said his visit here is “follow up to explore new opportunities of bilateral trade with a focused approach on economy, trade and tourism”.

He said that tourism is the real economic strength of Sri Lanka, but only 18 to 20 thousand Pakistani tourists visit Sri Lanka annually.

He said his country was trying to encourage tourism from all over the world and highlighted that a Sri Lankan Tourism Center has been established in Lahore which will offer best possible facilities to the Pakistani tourists. He welcomed the announcement of President FCCI to send a delegation to Sri Lanka.

He said that the coronavirus situation has been gradually improving ,” And hopefully we will vaccinate 30 percent of our population in March and best suitable time to visit Sri Lanka will be after the month of Ramzan”.

Earlier, welcoming the guests President FCCI Engineer Ihtasham Javed said,”The world is starting a new era after corona pandemic set in and we at the platform of FCCI are now welcoming Sri Lankan High Commissioner”.

About Faisalabad, he said that it is third major city of Pakistan and it recorded a phenomenal growth when global economies were contracting. “Our businessmen learned to live with corona pandemic by exploiting modern tools of digital technologies and starting a new era of e-commerce”.

He also termed Faisalabad an engine of job creation ,adding the city also plays pivotal role in national economy and textile exports.

Ihtasham Javed said that FCCI delegation will visit Sri Lanka soon after the month of Ramzan as during this month a trade delegation was already scheduled to visit Turkey.

One the occasion, President FCCI Engineer Ihtasham Javed presented FCCI memento to Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner Vice Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama.