Pak, SL to review FTA for enhancement of bilateral trade

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While agreeing to ease visa restrictions on the business community, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have decided to review the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries to harness the actual potential of bilateral trade. Addressing a joint news conference at the conclusion of two day Joint Economic Commission (JEC), Minister of State for Economic Affairs Division Hina Rabbani Khar along with the Minister of Industry and Commerce Sri Lanka, Rishad Bathiudeen announced that the review of FTA would be held in Colombo in August to further expand bilateral trade between the two countries.
She said both countries would also negotiate on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement in which all areas of mutual interest including health, agriculture, gems and jewellery, ports, shipping and infrastructure development would come under discussion. She said both sides have agreed to hold regular meetings of JEC and encourage the businessmen of both countries to participate in exhibitions. She said both countries have a vast scope to increase bilateral trade. The balance of bilateral trade between countries is presently in Pakistan’s favour. The Sri Lankan minister said both countries have agreed to hold the next meeting of JEC in Colombo next year.
He said that both the delegations acknowledged that relations between the two countries are based on shared understanding on a wide range of regional and international issues. A joint statement issued at the conclusion of the JEC said that all matters relating to trade would be discussed in detail at time of the FTA review. The State Bank of Pakistan and Ministry of Finance would communicate with concerned Sri Lankan authorities for providing necessary details regarding supplier credit of $200 million offered by Pakistan to Sri Lanka. Pakistan reiterated its offer of long term educational facilities as well as short term training facilities under Pakistan Technical Assistance Programme (PTAP).
The Sri Lankan delegation also requested Pakistan for training in the field of handicrafts including brassware, ceramics, leather, woodwork and handloom fabrics. Concerned agencies would work together towards attainment of this objective. Pakistani delegation reiterated its earlier request that Pakistani students be offered training courses in the field of nursing. The Sri Lankan side assured a response in due course. Both sides also agreed to constitute a joint committee for cooperation in science and technology. A delegation of technical experts from Sri Lanka will provide assistance in the field of gems to Pakistan.