Sri Lanka and Pakistan should seriously look into opportunities for joint ventures between the two countries across high potential sectors to substantially boost economic cooperation.
This was opined by the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka Muhammad Saad Khattak, who was the Chief Guest at the 29th Annual General Meeting of the Sri Lanka – Pakistan Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce held recently. At the Annual General Meeting Somasundaram Deivanayagam, Managing Director of Eswaran Brothers Exports was unanimously elected as the President of the Council.
“I strongly believe that the active working and participation of forums such as the Sri Lanka – Pakistan Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce are integral to building long-term and sustainable business-to-business linkages between Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Pakistan-Sri Lanka relationships are bound together by diverse yet similar legacies, linked by trade connections crisscrossing over time. We have helped each other in times of adversity; we have signed a mutual free trade agreement before anyone else.To this end, Sri Lanka has the exceptional status of being the first country with which Pakistan entered into a Free Trade Agreement for trade of goods, which came into effect in 2005. This clearly highlights the trust and expectations that we have in the economic potential of Sri Lanka.’’
Elaborating further on the trade ties he indicated that though the current trend of growth in bilateral trade is positive, however, the present volume of trade which is around US $ 450 million does not reflect the true potential between the two friendly countries. Currently, Sri Lanka is the 14th largest export destination, while Pakistan is Sri Lanka’s 23rd.
“However, we are cognizant of the fact that exports from Sri Lanka, which stood at US$ 81 million in 2019 and the overall volume of bilateral trade between our two friendly countries can be significantly improved.”
The High Commissioner reiterated that strengthening bilateral trade and investment between Pakistan and Sri Lanka is a top priority in the agenda of the Pakistan High Commission in Sri Lanka. Addressing the gathering Deivanayagam, the newly elected President stated that Pakistan is the largest tea drinking nation importing approximately 250 to 300 million Kgs of tea annually.
“However, it was noted that a very low quantity of tea is being exported from Sri Lanka to Pakistan and requested the Ambassador to intervene and see the possibility of improving the current situation by importing increased quantities of tea from Sri Lanka to Pakistan.
“Newly elected President Deivanayagam requested the High Commissioner to improve the current situation by importing increased quantities of tea from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, the largest tea drinking country.
Outgoing President Azmy Mohammed appreciated the support extended to local companies by the High Commission of Pakistan and requested his support to further develop trade and investment between Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
In South Asia, Sri Lanka ranks as the 3rdlargest trading partner. Major exports to Sri Lanka include, Portland Cement,Vegetables including onions and potatoes, rice, pharmaceuticals, cereals, cotton yarn, woven fabric, etc. I’m pleased to note that exports to Sri Lanka have been stable and growing throughout the years since the signing of the FTA and in 2019 exports from Pakistan stood at US$ 369 million.
The High Commission of Pakistan through its Trade & Investment Wing is committed to not only enhance the volume of our traditional exports to Sri Lanka such as textile products, pharmaceuticals,construction materials including cement and iron and steel products, fruits and vegetables but also make way for joint ventures between Sri Lankan and Pakistani businesses in various mutually beneficial high potential sectors such as textile manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, agro processing, Information & communication Technology (ICT) and tourism development and also to deepen our cooperation through enhanced regional connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRO) and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Pakistan is one of the world’s fastest growing economies in a largely volatile global economic scenario. The Bilateral Business Councils, an integral part of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, plays a vital role in the promotion of international business. The main activity of the Councils is expansion of business between Sri Lanka and the partner country.
The Ceylon Chamber operates19 Bilateral Business Councils with the prime objectives of promoting trade and investment, joint ventures, services including promotion of tourism between Sri Lanka and the respective countries. Somasundaram Deivanayagam, Managing Director of Eswaran Brothers Exports Pvt Ltd. was elected as the President ofthe Council, and Kaushal Rajapaksa, Proprietor, Kalhari Enterprises ShaameelMohideen, Chief Executive Officer, Spillburg Holdings (Pvt) Ltd. were elected as the Vice Presidents.
The Committee members representing Akbar Brothers (Pvt)Ltd. -Yogaratnam Yogeswaran, DMW Ventures Pvt. Ltd. – Wasantha de Silva, Hatton National Bank PLC –Randeva Mahaarachchi, M.A. Razak & Co. Ltd. – Ehab Razak, and MAC Holdings(Pvt) Ltd. – Kamal Boyagoda was appointed at the AGM. Caption: The new office bearers Seated Left to right Ehab Razak, Rohitha Thilakarathne, Lilakshini de Mel, Sega Nagendra, S. Deivanayagam, Maj. Gen.(Retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak, Shameel Mohideen, Asmma Kamal, Kaushal Rajapaksa, Azmy Mohideen, Wasantha de Silva and Mahesh Wijayanayake.