Jan 05, 2016 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and Pakistan have agreed to include services and investment chapters in the bilateral Free Trade Agreement, Pakistan Premier Nawaz Sharif said.
The existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has been operational since 2005.
Under the existing agreement, the two countries have agreed to offer preferential market access to each others’ exports by way of granting tariff concessions.
“We discussed the issues relating to the implementation of Pakistan, Sri Lanka FTA. The two countries have agreed on the inclusion of services and investments chapters in the bilateral FTA.” Pakistan PM said.
Pakistan Prime Minister was speaking at an event held at Presidential Secretariat to sign 8 bilateral agreements which includes the fields of hydro power, cement, fishing and navel.
“This would enable our companies to form joint ventures for exports for third countries. Sri Lanka enjoys exceptional position of being the first country with which Pakistan entered into a FTA,”
“The present volume of trade does not reflect the true potential. We have agreed to re-liberate our efforts to realize the goal of achieving one billion dollars bilateral trade target at the earliest.” the Pakistani PM said.
Through the FTA signed in 2005 Sri Lanka was able to enjoy duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market including tea, rubber and coconut.
Pakistan, in return, has gained duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market. These products include oranges, basmati rice and engineering goods.
Pakistan Premier invited Sri Lankan President to visit Pakistan soon.
Full Statement by the Pakistan Prime Minister:
President Maithripala Sirisena!
On behalf of myself and my delegation, I would like to thank you for the warm hospitality accorded to me and my delegation. My visit, which comes eight months after Your Excellency’s visit to Pakistan in April last year, is a testimony to strong bonds of friendship between our two countries. Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy excellent relations, based on mutual respect and shared interests. They are marked by cordiality and commonality of views on major regional and global issues and close cooperation in the multilateral forums. Both sides wish to further deepen and broaden these ties through regular high level contacts and exchange of visits.
Today, we comprehensively reviewed the whole range of our multifaceted bilateral relationship, in the fields of political interactions, trade and commerce, defence, education, science and technology, culture and agriculture etc. The talks were held in a warm friendly and cordial atmosphere and were marked by full trust and complete understanding. Both sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen our bilateral cooperation in a comprehensive manner. We have agreed to hold frequent summit level meetings, promote parliamentary exchanges and enhance the process of consultations, cooperation and coordination between our respective institutions.
We also discussed the issues related to the implementation of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement. The two countries have agreed on the inclusion of Services and Investments chapters in the bilateral FTA. This would enable our companies to form joint ventures for export to third countries. Sri Lanka enjoys exceptional position of being the first country with which Pakistan entered into a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The present volume of trade (approx. US $325 million) does not reflect true potential. We have agreed to re-invigorate our efforts to realize the goal of achieving US $1 billion bilateral trade target at the earliest. I re-iterated Pakistan’s offer to setup Cement and Sugar Plants in Sri Lanka, on mutually agreed terms, for the long term benefit of Sri Lankan economy. We have also conveyed our readiness to welcome Sri Lankan investment in Pakistan. We have also expressed satisfaction on the work of Pakistan-Sri Lanka Joint Economic Commission in promoting bilateral trade.
Both sides expressed their satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of Defence. I appreciated the participation of the Sri Lankan Navy in the annual AMAN exercise of the Pakistan Navy. I also conveyed our desire for more frequent port calls, participation in military exercises and fence seminars and training of military personnel.
Both sides also agreed to give further impetus of their cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, sporting contacts, cultural exchanges and people to people contacts. They also agreed to prioritize Cooperation in the Field of Gems and Jewelllery.
We have also signed a number of Agreements and MoUs today, which would help promote cooperation between our two countries in the fields Trade promotion, Culture, Health, Gem and Jewellery, Science & Technology and Combating Money Laundering and Terror Financing.
Sri Lanka has been a strong and steadfast friend of Pakistan. It has stood by us in our most difficult moments. We remain eternally grateful to the people and government of this beautiful Island State.
We now look forward to welcoming President Sirisena to Pakistan, at an early date, so that the relations of mutual trust and confidence can be further enhanced.
Colombo, 05 January 2016