ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 43
Financial Times  

Pakistan offers concessions on Lankan betel leaves

By Bandula Sirimanna

Pakistan has agreed to grant reduce tariff concessions for Sri Lanka’s herbal cosmetics and betel leaves while Colombo has given its consent to eliminate tariff on Basmati rice and potatoes under the Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ) of 6,000 tonnes and 1,000 tonnes per annum.

These decisions were taken at the first meeting of the Joint Committee established under the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA) held in Islamabad recently. The export of potatoes would be allowed from June-July and October-November, each year. Pakistan has agreed to eliminate tariff on the import of 10,000 tonnes of tea and reduced tariff on 1,200 tonnes of betel leaves by 35 percent on the basis of margin of preference, imported during a financial year a senior official of the Ministry of Export Development and International Trade told The Sunday Times FT.

The other main features of the agreement were that Pakistan will undertake elimination of tariff on spices, plastics, rubber and rubber products, raw silk and silk yarn, precious jewellery, precious stones, wooden and cane furniture and tea. Sri Lanka will give market access to Pakistan on items of export interests such as oranges including kinoo, dates, apples, fruit juices, welded pipes, iron and steel products, rice and potatoes. Both countries also observed that rules of origin have already been finalized and initiated by both sides earlier. The Joint Committee established under Article 11 of the FTA reviewed the progress of the agreement came into existence in June 2005.

The meeting was co-chaired by Humayun Akhtar Khan, Minister for Commerce, of Pakistan and Prof. G. L. Peiris Minister for Export Development and International Trade of Sri Lanka. Minister of Enterprise Development Mano Wijerathna also participated in the talks.
Pieris said that the trade between the two countries increased after the signing of the FTA. The Pakistani commerce minister said the officials of both the governments had an excellent working relationship and played a proactive role in resolving issues.
The committee decided to hold the next meeting in Sri Lanka. The FTA between Pakistan and Sri Lanka came into existence in June 2005.

The Pakistani delegation included Secretary Commerce Syed Asif Shah, Joint Secretary Shahid Bashir and High Commissioner for Pakistan in Colombo Shahzad Chaudhry. The Sri Lankan delegation included Ms Manel De Silva, Commerce Department Director General and others. Export Development and International Trade Ministry officials quoted Pakistan’s Humayun Akhtar Khan as saying that though the joint committee at ministerial level, which was established under the bilateral agreement, could not meet earlier to review the progress of its implementation, officials of both governments had an excellent working relationship and played a proactive role in resolving issues which arose during initial implementation phase of the agreement.

He said he reviewed the bilateral trade after implementation of the agreement and discussed the future road map to faster bilateral economic and commercial linkage by initiating negotiations on trade in services and investment. He emphasized the need to institute facilitation measures to reduce cost of doing trade, especially by SME sectors of both countries.



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