Pakistan, a steadfast friend of Sri Lanka – High Commissioner
The Envoy was addressing a press conference at his mission in Colombo recently.
“Following the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the island recently, the two countries have opened up new areas of cooperation to promote bilateral relations to new heights and continue to help each other for the progress of the two nations,” he said.
The High Commissioner recalled that trade and investment were important areas discussed when the Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Colombo in April this year. As per the wishes of the Prime Minister, Pakistan is now guided by geo-economics rather more than geo-strategy and is interested in forging economic ties with other countries.
According to the Stimson Centre, bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka grew only marginally from US$ 180 million in 2004 to US$ 460 million in 2018.
The removal of harmful trade barriers could take the bilateral trade up to US$ 2.7 billion, the Center said.
In February 2021, the Commerce Secretaries from both sides agreed to revive the Joint Working Groups (JWGs) to address technical impediments to bilateral trade and effectively implement the FTA.
During the press briefing, the diplomat announced that a high-level delegation from the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Pakistan is to visit Sri Lanka in two weeks’ time for discussions with the captains of Sri Lankan commerce and industry aimed at boosting bilateral economic ties.
He also speculated that the export of Ceylon tea to Pakistan has dropped due to lack of competitiveness among the Lankan tea traders. “Tea and coffee depends on the taste of these beverages and it is upto the marketing personnel to change the quality as well as their sales strategies.
He also said that Pakistan has granted hundreds of scholarships to Lankan youths.
The High Commissioner drew attention to the fact that Pakistan is a treasure house of Buddhist archaeological sites, and that there are many sites beyond Swat. But there is more to Pakistan than its Buddhist sites, he added.
There are mountains, lakes, deserts and beaches, all in one country. Sri Lanka-Pakistan tourism is an area that is yet to be exploited.
Press Counselor Kalsoom Jilani and the Deputy Chief of Mission Tanwir Ahamed were also present.