Sri Lanka Pakistan talks to expand trade

July 02, 2011 (LBO) – Sri Lanka and Pakistan will begin talks Monday to expand trade and review the implementation of a free trade deal which was put in place to give more freedom for citizens of both countries to exchange goods with each other. Trade between the two countries was 346 million US dollars. During a visit in December 2010, Pakistan’s president Asif Ali Zardari had expressed interest in boosting trade to a billion dollars.

South Asian nations erected high trade barriers after independence from British rule, fostering ‘import substitution’ rackets as the countries ran into balance of payments trouble under the failed Bretton Woods monetary system, keeping people poor.

Sri Lanka was one of the fist countries to cut trade barriers in the region, but progress has since slowed.

A delegation from Sri Lanka led by trade minister Rishad Bathiudeen has already left for Pakistan, the island’s trade ministry said.

Trade ministry secretary Tilak Collure, director general commerce Gomi Senadhira, and representatives from finance and foreign ministries are also in the delegation.

The trade ministry said during the 10th session of Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission to be held in Islamabad on July 04 and 05.