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* Pakistan looking for ways to boost private sector trade with Sri Lanka
Tue, Dec 4, 2012, 11:52 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Dec 04, Colombo: Exploring avenues to increase bilateral trade with Sri Lanka, Pakistan is considering to initiate private sector based joint ventures with Sri Lanka, the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Colombo has said recently.

"Though our bilateral trade is on the rise, there is much more unrealized potential in this regard. Joint Ventures, especially between private sectors of both countries, can assist us," Pakistan's envoy Seema Illahi Baloch has told the Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiyutheen recently.

The outgoing High Commissioner during her farewell meeting with the Minister has said that Joint Ventures, especially between private sectors of both countries, can assist both countries to expand bilateral trade from current levels.

"I see joint venture potential between both countries in jewellery, pharmaceuticals, textiles, and marble and granite," Baloch has noted.

Minister Bathiyutheen in repose has expressed Sri Lanka's appreciation to the Pakistani diplomat for her efforts to increase bilateral trade during her tenure in Colombo.

Both countries agree that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Sri Lanka has the potential to increase much more than the current volume of US$ 400 million and aim to expand the bilateral trade to reach US$ 2 billion in the next three years.

"We also believe that despite our bilateral trade growing to a strong US$ 410.56 million by 2011, there is yet unrealized trade potential between the two countries," the Minister has pointed out.

Next to India, Pakistan is Sri Lanka's second largest trade partner in the SAARC region.

Following the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2005, a substantial growth in bilateral trade has been observed.

The value of total trade between the two countries has increased 159% from US$ 158 million in 2005 to US$ 410.56 million in 2011. However, the balance of trade has always been in favor of Pakistan.

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