Sri Lankan betel farmers benefit from Pakistan buying: minister

Jan 12, 2008 (LBO) – Pakistan’s removal of a quota on Sri Lankan betel leaf exports has helped raise the quality of life among growers in three of the island’s districts, a government minister said. The government is keen to ensure that the benefits of the island’s burgeoning exports flow down to the villages in order to ensure social equality, trade minister G L Peiris said Friday.

Trade between Sri Lanka and Pakistan had doubled since a free trade deal was signed between them, he told the opening of the three-day Pakistan Trade Exhibition.

During trade talks in Islamabad, Pakistan agreed to remove the ceiling of 1,400 tonnes a year on the export of Sri Lankan betel leaves.

The move helped uplift the quality of life in the districts of Kurunegala, Kegalle and Gampaha where the leaf is grown.

“This brought about an economic renaissance at the social level in these three districts,” Peiris said.

He said he appreciated Pakistan’s willingness to not only enhance the volume of trade between the two countries and foreign exchange earnings for the island but to support ways in which the benefits of exports trickle down to rural Sri Lanka.

“We see our export policy as a mean