(COLOMBO, LANKAPUVATH) –The Fifth Sri Lanka-Pakistan Foreign Office Consultations was held on 17th October in Colombo, after a lapse of three years. Foreign Secretaries Prasad Kariyawasam and Tehmina Janjua of Sri Lanka and Pakistan respectively, co-chaired the meeting.
A wide range of issues reflecting the multifaceted nature of cooperation between the two countries, were discussed. This included trade and investment, tourism, science and technology, education, immigration, defence, sports, and ways and means to deepen bilateral relations and overcome impediments for strengthening collaboration further. The ongoing close cooperation between the parliamentarians of the two countries was noted as a means for further enhancing bilateral cooperation and people-to-people contact.
In order to invigorate efforts to reach the target of USD 1 billion trade by 2018, it was agreed to redouble trade promotion efforts. In this regard, the 2nd edition of the Pakistan Single Country Exhibition held in Colombo, and Sri Lanka’s participation consisting of a pavilion of 20 exhibitors at Expo Pakistan in November 2017 in Karachchi, with ‘Guest Country Status’, were discussed.
Investment opportunities available under the Pakistan–Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (PSFTA) explored, and issues that impede its maximum potential were discussed with a view to promoting more trade and investment under the provisions of the PSFTA. It was noted that the Advisory Committee established by the Sri Lanka–Pakistan Business Council to study trade related issues under the PSFTA, and formulate a strategy to improve exports under the agreement is an appropriate and timely initiative. Means to utilizing credit line facilities offered by Pakistan in priority projects in areas such as housing, livestock and science & technology were discussed as well.
The ongoing close defence cooperation between the two countries, in particular, training requirements of the armed forces, was reviewed, for further strengthening. Immigration procedures between the two countries were discussed with a view to streamlining processes to avoid bottle-necks and misuse.
It was agreed that the Joint Working Group (JWG) will meet soon with a view to assessing progress, and providing impetus to the implementation of MoUs/Agreements as well as other areas of cooperation including in education, sports, and in science and technology.
Foreign Secretary Janjua called on President Maithripala Sirisena on 17th October, and on Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe on 18th October, 2017.