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Sri Lankan businessmen call for end of non-tariff barriers

Sri Lankan businessmen have urged Pakistan’s government to lift non-tariff barriers on their exports as they are offsetting benefits of free trade agreement between the two countries.

“We have a free trade agreement, which takes precedence over other things. Our trade with other countries with which we have no free trade agreement is improving,” Sri Lanka-Pakistan Business Council President Rohitha Thilakarathne said.

At the occasion, Sri Lanka High Commissioner in Islamabad Maj Gen (r) Jayanath Lokuketagodage, newly arrived Consul General G.L. Gnanatheva, Sri Lankan Airlines Country Manager Ahamed Mazahim, Majyed Aziz, Shahid Younus, Shahzad Sabir, and other guests were present. It is pertinent to mention that Sri Lanka and Pakistan had signed a free trade agreement (FTA) in 2005. The council’s president said Sri Lanka’s leisure and construction sectors should further be explored as the steel industry is strong in Pakistan. “We are also inviting pharmaceutical manufacturers to invest in Sri Lanka not just to serve the Sri Lankan market but for re-exports,” he added.

“We are facilitating investors in the industry. Indians are coming in good numbers.” Thilakarathne said there is a niche market for sports goods in the island country. He said Sri Lankan producers had lost 100 percent of Pakistan’s tea market, which had been a huge loss for them. Sri Lanka was once the biggest tea exporter to Pakistan but has now lost its share to Kenya and other countries. The council’s head said if Pakistan government policies remain consistent and investors are protected, “Sri Lanka’s private businesses will be interested to invest in CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor] projects.” “Sri Lankan companies are looking for offshore investment avenues,” he added. (Courtesy Daily Times – Pakistan)

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