Pakistan, Sri Lanka to increase trade to over $2 bn


Islamabad : Visiting Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Pakistani counterpart Asif Ali Zardari have agreed to increase bilateral trade to over $2 billion over the next three years.

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Pakistan is one of the largest trade partners of Sri Lanka, with their current trade standing at $375 million. The two countries have a free trade agreement, the Dawn reported.

Zardari told Rajapaksa there was a huge scope to boost cooperation by “building on shared values, enhancing connectivity, increasing the synergies of our economies and reinforcing the institutional framework for cooperation”.

Rajapaksa who began a three-day visit to Pakistan Friday is accompanied by Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris, secretary to the president Lalith Weeratunga and media advisor Bandula Jayasekara.

Zardari suggested a number of measures for increasing trade, including a currency swap arrangement and establishment of direct shipping service between the two countries.

Both countries are also expected to sign an agreement during Rajapaksa’s visit under which Sri Lanka would get $200 million export credit facility through the State Bank of Pakistan.

Zardari urged the business communities of both countries to benefit from the potential in the financial and banking sectors, science and technology, defence, agriculture, tourism and gems.

Pakistan has been one of Sri Lanka’s major military hardware suppliers. Colombo is also considering a proposal from Islamabad for training of intelligence operatives and police officials.