Associated Press of Pakistan
First review meeting of Pak-Sri Lanka FTA held
16 March 2007
ISLAMABAD, Mar 16 (APP):The first meeting of joint committee, of Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement held here on Friday which reviewed the progress of the agreement. The joint committee was established under article 11 of Pak-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement.
According to a statement issued by Ministry of Commerce here today, the FTA between Pakistan and Sri Lanka came into existence in June 2005.
The meeting was co-chaired by Humayun Akhtar Khan Minister for Commerce and Prof.G.L Peiris Minister for Export Development and International Trade, of Sri Lanka.
The Pakistani Delegation included Secretary Commerce Syed Asif Shah, Joint Secretary Shahid Bashir and Shahzad Chaudhry High Commissioner for Pakistan in Colombo.
The Sri Lankan delegation included Memo Wijerante Minister for Enterprise Development, Ms. Manel De Silva DG Commerce and others.
Humayun Akhtar Khan welcomed the visiting minister and his delegation to the meeting on behalf of the Government and on his own behalf.
He further stated that though the joint committee at ministerial level which was established under the bilateral agreement could not met earlier to review the progress of its implementation, the officials of both governments had an excellent working relationship and played a proactive role in resolving issues which arose during the initial implementation phase of the agreement.
The Sri Lankan Trade Minister expressed gratitude for the warm welcome and excellent hospitality extended to him and his delegation since their arrival.
He further said that trade has been increased after the FTA.
He termed the FTA a landmark event in the history of both the countries.
The commerce minister Mr. Humayun Akhtar Khan in his statement reviewed the bilateral trade after the implementation of the agreement and discussed the future road map to faster bilateral economic and commercial linkage by initiating negotiations on trade in services, and investment.
He emphasized the need to institute facilitation measures to reduce cost of doing trade, especially by SME sectors of both the countries.
The Sri Lankan Trade Minister, in response expressed satisfaction on the increase of bilateral trade after the implementation of Free Trade Agreement.
He however was of the view that much remains to be done to realize the actual potential of bilateral trade. The key moves forward would be creating a high level awareness to the business community. Both the countries agreed with the proposal to reduce tariff concession on betel leaves and herbal cosmetics.
Prior to the minister level meeting, a meeting at the technical was held. Shahid Bashir Joint Secretary Ministry of Commerce led the Pakistani side, and the Director General Commerce Ms. Manel De Silva led Sri Lankan side.
They expressed the views that the both the sides have always been quick to respond to issues, which arose during the initial phase of implementation of bilateral agreement.
The spirit of understanding was key to realize potential of bilateral trade.
It was also decided that the next Review Meeting should be held in Sri Lanka on a date convenient to both the sides.
At the end, the signing ceremony of minutes was held. Both the commerce Ministers signed the minutes and exchanged the documents.