Sri Lankan Envoy Stresses Enhancing Pak-Sri Lanka Bilateral Trade
FAISALABAD, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 13th Oct, 2021 ) :Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is much low as compared to its potential and we must make concerted efforts to enhance it to a reasonable level, said Yasin Joyia Honorary Consul General of Sri Lanka.
Addressing the business community at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) here on Wednesday, he said that Sri Lanka is a comparatively a small country with a population of only 22 million. "It has four provinces and 25 districts but its literacy rate is as high as 98 percent.." He said the main economic strength of Sri Lanka is its well-developed tourism sector which is contributing 40 percent towards its GDP. He said that before Coronavirus Pandemic, Pakistan was at 27th place in tourism to Sri Lanka but in September it jumped to 2nd after India.
He said that as the global markets remained closed with minimum air flights, the Sri Lankan Airline offered "Buy one, Get one ticket free" to support its tourism industry. He said: "We have made elaborate arrangements to issue visas within 24 hours." He said that Pakistani exports to Sri Lanka stood at 400 million Dollars while imports from Sri Lanka are only 90 million dollars. Though the trade balance is in favor of Pakistan, but we must take aggressive measures to enhance our trade volume with a "win-win" situation, he added.
He said that to achieve this target, he will try his optimum best to enhance direct links between the business communities of two countries and added Sri Lanka has a fully grown tourism and hotel industry and Pakistan could further enhance its exports of towels, bed sheets etc. to Sri Lanka as the situation is now returning to normalcy.
Joyia said that he could provide lists of leading chains of hotels in Sri Lanka so that Pakistani exporters could directly contact them. Continuing, he said that yet another hurdle in enhancing trade is minimum flights between Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Currently, there are four weekly flights which must be increased particularly to ensure maximum exports of perishable items like betel leaf, and coconut etc.
He said that Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is expected to visit Pakistan next month and he will try to convince him to visit Faisalabad and have direct dialogue with the local business community.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka have also signed Free Trade Agreement and more than 2000 items are included in this list but we could not fully exploit this facility, he added. He welcomed the proposal of President FCCI to send a trade delegation to Sri Lanka and assured that he will arrange their meeting with concerned chambers and businessmen.
He said that the energy sector has been opened for foreign investment with a ten years tax holiday and added that Pakistani investors should also avail this opportunity.
Responding to a question, he said that apart from tourism, Sri Lankan exports consist of coconut, spices, rubber, boats and betel leaf. "As Pakistan has clamped a ban on imports from India, hence Pakistani importers should divert their orders towards Sri Lanka", he added.
Earlier, Atif Munir Sheikh President FCCI welcomed the guest and underlined the need to enhance bilateral trade between the two friendly countries.
He also announced to send a trade delegation to Sri Lanka to translate our friendly ties into real economic terms.
A question-answer session was also held while SVP Imran Mehmood Sheikh offered vote of thanks.
Later, former president FCCI Ayub Aslam along with President Atif Munir Sheikh presented FCCI shield to Mr. Yasin Joyia. Sri Lankan Consul also presented printed material about Sri Lanka to President FCCI.
The meeting was also attended by Muhammad Fazil, Sana Ullah Niazi, Mian Abdul Waheed, Mian Tayyab, Mr. Abdul Jabbar and Azhar Chaudhary.