COLOMBO: Prime Minister Imran Khan is currently on a two-day official visit to Sri Lanka today. He has been invited by his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa.
The Prime Minister’s delegation includes Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Special Adviser to Prime Minister (SAPM) on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razaq Dawood, and SAPM for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari. This is the premier’s first visit to the country since assuming office in 2018.
During his visit, the premier has met President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his counterpart Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, discussing opportunities for trade and tourism.
The Correspondent talked to SAPM for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood in an exclusive interview. HE said that Pakistani delegation is present in Sri Lanka to offer a Special Trading Zone (STZ)to Sri Lankan investors. Below the interview is the transcript of the conversation.
Anas Malik: You are here in Sri Lanka what are the expectations, key areas of conversation, and what is on the agenda from your end and from your ministry?
Razak Dawood: The main purpose of this conference is to increase the cooperation between Pakistan and Sri Lanka businessmen. the bilateral relationship between these two is not as strong as it ought to be, we need to increase the contact between the business communities. Secondly, we are here to also review the Free Trade Agreement; when this was signed in 2005, our exports have doubled. But the increase has not been as substantial as it should have been.
I have a meeting with the [Sri Lankan] trade minister; there are bilateral interests to safeguard and reservations that need to be solved. Therefore, the Free Trade Agreement will be reviewed.
Secondly, what Pakistan is doing in Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and through the CPEC investment needs to be utilised. We are here to present an opportunity to the business community in Sri Lanka to offer land on a lease [Special Trading Zone], which would give them access to Central Asian markets, which would be bilaterally beneficial.
Thirdly, [efforts being made to get] Sri Lankan investment to be directed towards Pakistan. As of now, they [Sri Lankan investors] largely invest in India. We are extending an offer for them to come to Pakistan and invest; Pakistan is growing rapidly through industrialization, come and be a part of it.
Inshallah, contacts such as these are channels for businessmen to increase activity [in different countries].