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KARACHI: High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Vice Admiral Mohan Wijewickrama has said that Sri Lanka was seriously looking at China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and improving trade ties with Pakistan would also open up a lot of trade opportunities with Central Asian Republics (CARs).

He said this while speaking at a meeting with the members of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI). Sri Lanka’s trade could be developed by connecting Gwadar Port with Colombo Port which was one of the biggest ports in South Asia wherein two more terminals; Eastern and Western terminals were being developed despite the economic meltdown suffered by the country, he added.

While expressing optimism about Sri Lanka’s recovery from the economic meltdown, the HC said that it happened because the governments from time to time kept piling up debts that led to bringing Sri Lanka to level where it was unable to pay its loans in 2021 so the government had to take a decision whether to pay the loans and keep the people starved or feed the people and avoid paying loans so the decision was taken to default one loan.

“The government is quite confident that Sri Lanka would come out of economic crisis as political stability has been achieved and negotiations are also underway with the IMF for an extended economic facility with restructured loans while reforms will also be introduced in the loss-making enterprises.

Commenting on Sri Lanka-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2005, he said that trade volumes doubled after signing of FTA and the trend continued for a period of 10 years but then it became stagnated.

“Under the FTA, trade should have reached at least US 2 billion dollars but unfortunately it did not happen as both countries are exporting to other countries and importing from other countries instead of each other”, he opined. He stressed that SAARC members must explore ways to improve trade within the SAARC region which was even stronger than ASEAN in terms of GDP and population.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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