Daily Times, Pakistan, 22 May 2005
Humayun for joint ventures with Sri Lanka
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Sri Lanka will allow duty free access to hundreds of products on bilateral basis under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), to be effective from June 12 this year.
“As the trade under FTA moves on, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will bring tariff lines to zero level in three and five years, respectively”, Humayun Akhtar Khan, commerce minister said in an interview published in the Sri Lankan newspaper “Daily News” on May 19.
He said, the two countries have the potential to launch joint ventures in the specific areas, given the expertise and resources possessed by them.
He said, the FTA has opened new opportunities for joint ventures in the areas of garments, cement, fisheries and gems and jewellery, besides import-export and other trade activities.
“The two governments have laid the foundation for a new era of trade and commerce through the FTA. Now, it is time for the business communities to make use of the benefits and increase trade and bilateral relations between the two nations,” he said.
Mr Khan visited Colombo last week to participate in the meeting of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Council and to sign the protocol for implementation of the FTA.
He hoped the FTA would also promote foreign direct investment (FDI). “I hope Sri Lanka will receive more FDI following the benefits of the FTA in the near future.”
During his two-day official visit to Colombo, he had meetings with the Sri Lankan prime
minister, foreign minister and the trade minister which he said were very cordial and fruitful.
“We had constructive discussions and some of the ideas that came on centre stage included joint ventures,” he said.
Referring to potential areas of investment, He said in the garment sector Sri Lanka has market access to the European Union and Pakistan has a large textiles industry. These attributes can be combined and used in joint ventures.
“In the cement sector, we can send cement or clinker for Sri Lanka to manufacture and bag cement which is an employment generation project.
Tea is another prominent area that would come under the FTA. Over the last few decades kenya has emerged as the number one tea exporter to Pakistan. The FTA has allowed Sri Lanka to export 10,000 metric tonnes of tea and Pakistan hopes that Sri Lankan exporters would take this opportunity to re-enter the market,” he said. To a question, he said, Kenya’s tea is excellent, but now there is a chance for Sri Lankan exporters too to supply quality tea to Pakistan.
“As far as Pakistan’s exports are concerned, they are keen on increasing export volumes in the areas of fruits, rice, textiles and leather goods.”