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* Sri Lankan Provincial Minister speaks of cooperating with Pakistan to strengthen agriculture sector
Tue, Aug 26, 2014, 10:47 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Aug 26, Lahore: Sri Lanka and Pakistan have lot to offer to each other to strengthen the agriculture sectors of the two countries, a Sri Lankan Provincial Minister visiting Lahore said.

Minister of Agriculture of Sri Lanka's Eastern Provincial Council Naseer Ahmed made this remark when he called on the Vice President of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Kashif Anwar in Lahore Monday.

The visiting Sri Lankan Provincial Minister said that there is a need for Pakistan and Sri Lanka to join hands to strengthen their respective economies.

He further emphasized that Sri Lankan public sector has huge opportunities for Pakistan's private sector and the Sri Lankan businessmen have shown their willingness to do business with their Pakistani counterparts.

LCCI Vice President Kashif Anwar noted that Pakistan and Sri Lanka are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and have good diplomatic and economic relations and Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia after India.

Anwar however said that despite having good trade and economic relations and a free trade agreement since 2005, the bilateral trade figures are not up to the full potential.

"Our exports to Sri Lanka are ranging between US$ 300 - 350 million and similarly the imports have yet to reach US$ 100 million," the LCCI Vice President said.

Pointing out that Sri Lanka-India trade is around US$ 5.2 billion, Anwar said considering the size of Sri Lanka's economy there is not much room left for Pakistan.

He said that both countries should identify more items of trade to bring some positive change in bilateral trade.

The Sri Lankan Minister said due to the prolonged drought in Sri Lanka, the government is planning to import 100,000 MT rice to meet its local demand and since Pakistan is a major rice exporter Sri Lanka can consider importing a bigger share of rice from Pakistan.

LCCI Vice President said that, both Pakistan and Sri Lanka heavily depend on their agriculture sectors and their industrial sectors primarily use agriculture produce, the two countries must join hands in developing their agriculture sectors.

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