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Pakistan and Sri Lanka FTA talks on June 4-5

The Daily Times, Karachi

26 May 2004

Pakistan and Sri Lanka FTA talks on June 4-5

By Shaukat Piracha

ISLAMABAD: A four-member Pakistani delegation will visit Sri Lanka from June 3 to June 10 to finalise the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the government of Sri Lanka and to attend the third meeting of the Committee of Experts (COE) on carrying forward the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) process.

Sources told Daily Times that the Pakistani delegation would attend two-day talks on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka from June 4 to June 5. “It may be the last meeting between Pakistan and Sri Lanka on that subject,” sources added.

Sources said that the delegation would then attend the 3rd meeting of the COE involving seven SAARC member states on the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement, which was signed during the last SAARC summit in Pakistan in January.

The COE on SAFTA includes senior representatives from the seven member states. It held its second meeting in Islamabad from May 5 to May 7 to devise mechanisms and seek means to implement the SAFTA agreement.

According to its Article 22, the SAFTA agreement shall enter into force on January 1, 2006, after the completion of formalities such as ratification by all contracting states and issuance of a notification by the SAARC Secretariat.

The COE has to settle several issues by December this year to effectively implement the SAFTA. Some of the issues include draftng SAFTA rules of origin, exchanging initial sensitive lists, finalising terms of reference for consultations on compensation for revenue loss for the least developed contracting states (Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives), exchanging an updated customs tariff schedule and import/export policies and making recommendations for a future course of action, including confirmation of dates and venues for future meetings of the committee.

Sources said Fauzia Sana, director general of SAARC at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shahid Bashir, joint secretary from the Ministry of Commerce, Dr Muhamamd Saeed, deputy secretary from the Ministry of Commerce and a senior representative from the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) would attend the COE meeting.