ISLAMABAD– President SAARC chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik has hailed goodwill gesture of Pakistan for offering 100 scholarships to Sri Lankan students in top medical institutions.
Talking to a delegation of traders he said it’s good omen that during recent visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan, both countries reiterated the importance of strengthening economic relations in key areas of mutual interest and diversifying trade and investment of two countries.
He said that it was historic breakthrough that both sides underlined the vital importance of realizing the goal of achieving $1 billion bilateral trade target and also agreed to work together closely towards broadening and deepening of Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
He said that MoU on cooperation between Boards of Investment of two countries will accelerate the economic activities and boost bilateral cooperation.
Iftikhar Ali Malik who remained actively associated with SAARC Chamber for the last three decades having deep insight said that the current trade between both countries is not entirely encouraging, but both countries have markets for each other’s primary products.
SAARC Chamber Chief observed that Pakistan is an important market for tea products, which also happens to be a top Sri Lankan export item, and Pakistan is also a significant importer of copra and rubber, both items are important Sri Lankan exports.
Similarly, Sri Lanka is an important market for textile products, machinery, and pharmaceuticals along with other products that Pakistan records significant exports . He said therefore there exists a huge trade potential between both countries if the FTA is utilised properly he remarked.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that Pak companies have invested significantly in agriculture,information technology and construction sectors of Sri Lanka while it’s construction industry is growing rapidly creating huge demand of Pak cement. Pak private sector can also capture sugar export market in Sri Lanka which imports its 90 % sugar requirements.
He said what’s both countries needed is to diversify their products through research,innovation and value addition adjusting according to the demands of each other markets.
He said non tariff barriers have smothered the impact of tariff rationalisations.He said due to lack of awareness,exporters do not make full use of market potential and benefits under free trade agreement.
Iftikhar Ali Malik reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to SAARC and expressed the hope that the process of regional co-coordination would be allowed to move forward, he concluded.— PRESS RELEASE