Pak, Sri Lanka to resume trade talks

Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed to reactivate the Joint Working Group (JWG) for redressal of technical issues pending between the two trading partners, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) said on Saturday.

The trading partners reached an understanding during the seventh session of commerce secretaries. The virtual meeting was held between Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, on Feb 18, prior to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Sri Lanka on Feb 23-24.

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A press release issued by the Ministry of Commerce on Saturday said that it has been decided to conduct the next JWG meeting during the first half of 2021.

MoC Special Secretary Dr Muhammad Sohail Rajput represented the Pakistani side while the Sri Lankan delegation was led by Ministry of Trade Secretary JM Bhadranie Jayawardhana.

The trading partners agreed to enhance cooperation in trade-related matters so that the true potential of the Free Trade Agreement could be effectively exploited.

The delegates engaged in productive and meaningful discussions on strengthening trade ties and resolving issues impeding trade. Prospects of enhancing trade through mutual cooperation and facilitation were also discussed, the MoC announcement said.

The secretaries stressed on the need to use the forum to boost the prevailing bilateral trade and investment linkages and expressed their commitment to bolster trade relations by removing various hurdles. They also agreed to the text of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in the field of investment and resolved that it will usher in new avenues of bilateral investment.

The Sri Lankan side acknowledged that Pakistan has been a long-standing trading partner, a closer ally and the country was eagerly looking forward to the upcoming visit of the Pakistani premier to Colombo, said the announcement.

The meeting concluded with the commitment to expand and cement bilateral relationship between the two countries.

PM Khan’s Sri Lanka visit aimed at strengthening trade ties

Prime minister Imran Khan is expected to visit Sri Lanka from February 23 to 24 on the invitation of Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, according to a statement issued by Pakistan’s Foreign Office.

This will be the Pakistani premier’s first visit to Sri Lanka after assuming office in 2018. During this two-day visit, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are expected to sign multiple agreements to strengthen economic cooperation and enhance connectivity between the two countries.

PM Imran Khan will also hold meetings with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. It has been announced that several mutually beneficial bilateral Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) will be signed on February 23 at the Sri Lankan premier’s residence called Temple Tree.

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The premier would be accompanied by a high-powered delegation comprising of business leaders primarily from the sectors of textile, pharmaceuticals, agro-food, sports goods, ICT, gems and jewellery, auto parts, construction material and surgical equipment.

Key ministers and senior officials including Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, PM’s commerce adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, Secretary foreign affairs Sohail Mahmood would also accompany the premier on his maiden visit to Sri Lanka.

PM Khan will also take part in a joint Trade and Investment Conference and a sports diplomacy initiative amongst several other high-level engagements in Sri Lanka to boost trade ties.

Sri Lankan PM Mahinda Rajapaksa said that he looked forward to welcoming Pakistani PM Imran Khan and his delegation in ‪Sri Lanka next week. “This visit will further reinforce our bilateral relationship and pave way for joint ventures that mutually benefit both our nations” he tweeted.