Sri Lanka is negotiating a USD 200 million credit line from Pakistan to import rice, cement and medicinal drugs, Trade Minister Bandula Gunawardana said.
The proposals on the credit line was discussed during Minister Gunawardana’s recent official visit to Pakistan.
Importation of goods under the credit line will be carried out by the State Trading (General) Corporation. The Trade Ministry is to submit the draft agreement soon to the Finance Ministry.
Once approved and signed, the Secretaries to the Ministries under whose purview the importation of these different items comes will hold discussions with the Pakistan High Commissioner on importing the items under the credit line.
Cement, Basmathi Rice and medicines manufactured in Pakistan would be imported this year under the credit line, the Minister added.
Minister Gunawardana also noted that Sri Lanka had only been
able to export USD 500 million worth of goods to Pakistan under the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He said he held talks with Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan aimed at increasing the amount of exports to Pakistan under the FTA to USD 2 billion.
Discussions were also held with Pakistani authorities to reduce the tax being levied on betel exports to Pakistan. Betel serves as one of the country’s primary exports to Pakistan under the FTA.
Authorities are also trying to resolve a dispute that has arisen regarding the importation of Basmathi rice from Pakistan. Minister Gunawardana said they had agreed to send a team from Sri Lanka to Pakistan with the aim of resolving the issue over the quality of the rice.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi held talks with Minister Gunawardana and State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya this week during the Sri Lankan delegation’s visit to Pakistan.
The Pakistan High Commission said the Pakistan Foreign Minister underlined the need to capitalise on the immense goodwill that existed between Pakistan and Sri Lanka by expanding cooperation across diverse areas, including trade and investment, tourism, culture, education, defence, agriculture and human resource development.
(Source: The Sunday Times)