Better Mix

Sept 08, 2006 (LBO) – Local businessmen have been asked to diversify exports to Pakistan outside of a few traditional commodities, and fast, to fully exploit bilateral trade between both countries. Top exports to Pakistan Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner in South Asia after India are largely confined to coconut products, rubber, tea, vegetable products, fish, spices, fiber boards, garment accessories among others.

Exports of over 4,600 goods are allowed duty free from Sri Lanka under the year old bilateral trade deal, with tax breaks also given on quotas of tea, garments and betel leaves.

Quotas given by Islamabad for tea are under-utilised however, as Pakistan turns to Kenya for supplies and also scouts for other trading partners to boost its own bilateral trade.

Sri Lanka is allowed to export 10,000 metric tones of tea to Pakistan duty free, with less than half this quota being utilized.

“The first step is to diversify and expand our local production base, to strengthen it so that we can supply the demand,” D W Jinadasa, Deputy Director at Sri Lanka’s commerce department told businessmen this week.

A study of Pakistan’s market would be needed, Jinadasa s