Sri Lanka presses Pakistan to lower tariffs

Both sides agreed to reconsider their visa policies especially for business communities to make frequent visits easier and enhance bilateral trade relations at the talks in Islamabad, a ministry of industry and commerce statement said.

The 10th session of the Sri Lanka – Pakistan Joint Economic Commission was held in Islamabad on July 4-5 after a gap of six years with a 14-member delegation led by minister of industry and commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.

The Sri Lankan delegation was looking to reduce tariff imposed by Pakistan on Sri Lankan agro-products, coconut-based products and Betel leaves in Pakistan.

“Both countries are yet to explore the full potential for expanding and increasing trade under the free trade agreement,” the statement said.

“However, it was observed that bilateral trade has increased considerably with the implementation of the FTA in 2005 from 147 million US dollars in 2004 to 342 million dollars in 2010.”

The request by the Sri Lankan delegation with regard to the increase of taxes on betel leaves will be worked out during the August, 2011 FTA review in Colombo.

“Pakistani delegation informed the Sri Lankan side that they are examining Sri Lankan concerns on the tariff lines for coconut oil, adding that it shall be considered accordingly,” the statement said.

In January 2008 Colombo requested Pakistan to remove its coconut oil exports from the “No Concession List� of Pakistan.

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