Sri Lankan delegation will visit Pakistan in January to enhance the business cooperation with business community of Pakistan.
Sri Lankan trade minister will be visiting Pakistan on January 23 accompanied by representatives from 40 to 50 companies to explore avenues of cooperation and collaboration with the business community of Pakistan, revealed Consul General of Sri Lanka Jagath Abeywarna.
Addressing a meeting at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Thursday, the envoy stressed that the delegation would explore the possibility of enhancing trade and investment ties with Pakistani counterparts besides exploring avenues in the tourism sector. “Most Sri Lankan tourists, who regularly visit India and Nepal, are not much aware of the historical sites in Pakistan,” he said.
He sought the chamber’s cooperation in arranging business-to-business meetings during the visit of the delegation. He termed exchange of trade delegations “only way” to improve trade and investment ties between the two sides and advised KCCI to arrange a similar delegation to Sri Lanka.
He was of the view that there was a immense potential to uplift two-way trade and investment. “Pakistan has very strong pharmaceutical and textiles industries,” he said. “Products from these segments can be exported to Sri Lanka as we import almost all types of pharmaceutical products and fabrics.” He voiced hope that a huge number of Sri Lankan companies would participate in ‘My Karachi Exhibition’ which was scheduled to be held at Karachi Expo Centre from February 11 to 13, 2022.
On the occasion, KCCI President Muhammad Idrees assured the envoy that his chamber would welcome and facilitate the delegation during its forthcoming visit to Karachi by organizing business-to-business meetings. Quoting statistics, he pointed out that the country’s exports to Sri Lanka stood at $324.7 million during the year 2020 while imports from Sri Lanka were recorded at $78.9 million, he added.
“The actual trade potential is much higher than what the current statistics reveal and we are determined to tap it with join efforts and close coordination with the Sri Lankan side,” he emphasized. Arif Habib Commodities CEO Ahsan Mehanti underlined that Sri Lanka was an important export market for agriculture and value-added products.
“The economic relations and free trade agreement can prove to be beneficial for both countries give that trade between Pakistan and India is currently suspended,” he said, adding that both the countries were interested in expanding export of services. Furthermore, he emphasized that the two sides could practice barter trade to arrest currency depreciation. “Sri Lanka is one of those countries where Pakistan and Pakistanis are regarded highly,” said Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives (CPDI) CEO Mukhtar Ahmad Ali.
He was of the view that the government should take proactive steps to strengthen the bilateral relations in diverse sectors including education, health and sports besides enhancing people-to-people ties.
Talking about tourism, Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) Vice President Ahmad Jawad lamented that Sri Lankan tourists largely stayed away from Pakistan which might be “due to lack of marketing and awareness”. “On the flip side, a huge number of Pakistani tourists visit Sri Lanka,” he underlined. “There needs to be reciprocation in this regard.” “We need to market our agriculture products through roadshows and Sri Lankan authorities can help us in this regard,” he added. Pakistan also had a huge export potential in textile products to Sri Lanka, Jawad underlined.