COLOMBO, May 28 (Xinhua) -- Sri Lanka and Pakistan want to triple their bilateral trade to 1 billion U.S. dollars and increase engagement on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, a statement from the Industry and Trade Ministry said here on Thursday.
Pakistan is fast-tracking work with new vigor to reach the 1 billion U.S. dollar mark in bilateral trade, the new Pakistani High Commissioner to Colombo Major General (Rtd.) Syed Shakeel Hussain told the Sri Lankan Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen.
Pakistan is also aiming to wrap the next Joint Economic Commission (JEC) session in Islamabad at the earliest, the envoy told the Minister.
"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," Hussain was quoted as saying.
Pakistan is the second largest trading partner of Sri Lanka in South Asia after India and despite the Pakistan-Lanka Free Trade Agreement that is in effect since June 2005, the bilateral trade remains below potential.
According to the Commerce Department, total trade between the two countries has increased from 158 million U.S. dollars in 2005 to 354 million U.S. dollars in 2014 with the balance of trade remaining in favor of Pakistan.