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Sri Lanka and Pakistan to implement free trade agreement from June

Friday May 13, 2005

Sri Lanka and Pakistan to implement Free Trade Agreement from June

A Sri Lanka-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement will come into effect next month, Sri Lanka’s trade minister said Friday, in a deal expected to double the amount of trade between the two.

The agreement, signed in February will be operational from June 12, said Jeyaraj Fernandopulle, minister of commerce and consumer affairs, at the conclusion of the ninth Joint Economic Commission between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Colombo.

Under the agreement, 200 Sri Lankan products will get duty free access to Pakistan while Pakistan will export 100 products to Sri Lanka duty free, Fernandopulle said. Tariffs on some other items will be gradually faded out, he said.

The agreement will expand Sri Lanka’s market in Pakistan for tea, betel leaves, rubber, coconut products, ceramics and jewelry. Among the prime exports from Pakistan will be rice, potatoes and fruits.

Two-way trade between the countries amounted to about US$148 million last year - the highest value of bilateral trade recorded between the two and a 25 percent increase from 2003.

Bilateral trade is expected to double during the first year, according to Ishtinq Andrabi, Pakistan’s deputy high commissioner in Colombo.

The pact will be Pakistan’s first FTA while Sri Lanka already has one with India.

 source: AP