Sri Lanka offers Pakistan exclusive industrial zone: report

Aug 23, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lanka has offered an industrial zone exclusively for Pakistan in a bid to promote inward investment from South Asian and Middle East regions, a media report said.

Sayeed was quoted as saying that he will promote Pakistani firms to set up joint ventures in Sri Lanka and promote trade and investment links using the benefits of a South Asian Free Trade Arrangement (SAFTA).

Multilateral trade liberalization has however been slow in South Asia.

India has led trade liberalization in recent years, striking bi-lateral deals such as the Indo Lanka Free Trade Agreement. At one time Sri Lanka was a leader in economic liberalization but India and Maldives are now ahead.

Attempts to expand the deal into a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement covering services have been stalled by rising protectionist power of some businesses that have strong political connections in Sri Lanka.

The Sunday Times said Sayeed wanted to remove non-tariff barriers to trade and liberalize trade in services to achieve intra-regional trade of 20 billion US dollars by 2010.

The Sunday Times newspaper quoted visiting chief of a regional business chamber,