Minister Bathiudeen (centre) greets Maj Gen (Rtd.) Syed Shakeel Hussain

Pakistan Minister of commerce is expected to arrive in Sri Lanka shortly to work on new trade initiatives with Sri Lanka, the Country’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Maj Gen (Rtd.) Syed Shakeel Hussain said last week.

Sri Lanka’s second largest trading partner in the SAARC region has stated that it was fast-tracking work on USD 1 billion annual bilateral trade while also aiming to wrap the next Joint Economic Commission (JEC) session in Islamabad at the earliest.

“We want to expedite the next Joint Economic Commission to be held in Islamabad. And our new Minister of Commerce Eng.
Khurram Dastgir Khan is now ready to come to Colombo before the JEC to continue on the new trade initiatives as agreed by higher levels during April in Islamabad,” he said.

Hussain made this observation during a meeting with Sri Lanka’s Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen at the Ministry.

Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in the SAARC region after India. Total trade between the two countries increased from USD158 million in 2005 to USD 354 million in 2014. The Balance of Trade has always been in favour of Pakistan.

“We also believe that cement, sugarcanes and pharmaceuticals are key avenues of investment cooperation. We must integrate businesses and entrepreneurs on both sides as ways and means to expand bilateral trade. B2B exchanges involving them would be a good start for our agreed annual trade levels of USD1 billion,” he added.