Seen here Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Major General (retd) Shahid Ahmed Hashmat speaking to the gathering whilst President of the National Chamber of Commerce Sujeeve Samaraweera (left) looks on
Pic by Samantha Perera
By Supun Dias
Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka Major General (retd) Shahid Ahmed Hashmat said that both Sri Lanka and Pakistan should work towards achieving an annual bilateral trade value of US$ 1 billion to strengthen the economic potential of the two countries.
He was speaking at a session to discuss Sri Lanka-Pakistan business cooperation which was organized by the National Chamber of Commerce, at its auditorium in Colombo.
“We have a strategic partnership, and during the war we were there to help you whenever it was needed. Now things have changed and we should focus on increasing our trade potential. Therefore, I urge that we take appropriate steps to meet this target,” he said.
“Pakistan exports around US$ 300-400 million worth goods to Sri Lanka and we also get goods worth up to US$ 80 million from Sri Lanka. We should minimize the trade deficit and would like to see more Sri Lankan exports coming into the Pakistani market in the next couple of years,” he noted.
The High Commissioner said that projects such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Gwadar Port and Hambantota Port are key economic projects undertaken by both countries to boost its economic potential amidst geopolitical tension in the region.
“Having such friendly relations with Sri Lanka, it will be very easy to set up the foundation needed to boost our bilateral trade. We recently had a couple of exhibitions in Sri Lanka to attract Sri Lankan investments into Pakistan. And we will continue to have such platforms to encourage key investments needed for both countries,” he added.
Sri Lankan exports to Pakistan include rubber, vegetables, fibre, tea, garments, and coconut whilst Pakistani exports include sugar, cotton and cement.
President of the National Chamber of Commerce Sujeeve Samaraweera spoke on how the chamber could facilitate Sri Lankan businesses to work closely with their Pakistani counterparts.
Both the National Chamber of Commerce and the Pakistani High Commission requested all stakeholders and business partners to raise any issue with regard to doing business with Pakistan at anytime, so that these queries could be raised with the highest authorities.