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Pakistan; Sri Lanka: Free Trade Agreement Meeting to Be Held

(July 11, 2011) Pakistan and Sri Lanka held the tenth session of meetings of their Joint Economic Commission from July 4-5, 2011, in Islamabad, Pakistan. At the meetings, the two nations decided to hold a Free Trade Agreement review session in August in Colombo, Sri Lanka, and to discuss trade matters, including a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, in detail at that time. (Pakistan and Sri Lanka Agree to Negotiate Trade Agreements in August, COLOMBOPAGE (July 6, 2011).)

The decisions reached at the July session include a plan to have regular trade delegation visits between the two nations, to be held at least once a year. Businessmen from each country will be encouraged to take part in trade shows in the other country, and the governments will be reviewing their visa policies to ease the way for these visits. In addition, a joint committee for science and technology cooperation will be created. Furthermore, the State Bank of Pakistan has proposed offering a supplier credit of $200 million to Sri Lanka and will be discussing the details of that proposal with Sri Lanka's Ministry of Finance. (Id.)

The sessions were led by the Sri Lankan Minister for Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, and the Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Finance, and Economic Affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar. Bathiudeen called the meetings very successful, and stated that “[b]oth governments have agreed to provide enhanced opportunities to the private sector to interact to benefit from untapped potential. Plans to cement links and other steps to further encourage Pakistani investors are on the cards.” (Asif Fuard, Pakistan-Sri Lanka to Further Strengthen Trade Ties, HAVEERU ONLINE (July 7, 2011); COLOMBOPAGE, supra.)

Khar pointed to the decisions to exchange expertise in the fields of handicrafts, gems, and jewelry. Pakistan will provide assistance with training in these fields, while Sri Lanka offers help with training in nursing. (COLOMBO PAGE, supra.)

At present, Sri Lanka is a major regional trade partner of Pakistan. Ties between the two nations were enhanced due in part to Pakistan's assistance to the Sri Lankan government during that nation's war with the Tamil Tiger rebels. (Fuard, supra.)