Colombo: Sri Lanka and Pakistan expect to push their annual bilateral trade volume to USD 1 billion, up from the 2014 figure of USD 350 million, the Pakistani envoy here has said.
Syed Shakeel Hussain said the two countries were aiming to wrap up the next Joint Economic Commission (JEC) session in Islamabad at the earliest.
"We want to expedite the next Joint Economic Commission to be held in Islamabad. And our new Minister of Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan is now ready to come to Colombo before the JEC to continue the new trade initiatives agreed upon at the highest levels during April in Islamabad," Hussain, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka said.
Pakistan is Sri Lanka's second largest trading partner in the SAARC region after India.
Total trade between the two countries jumped from USD 158 million in 2005 to USD 354 million in 2014.
The balance of trade has always been in favour of Pakistan. The Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement came into force in June 2005.
Sri Lanka's leading exports to Pakistan in 2014 were pepper (USD 15 million), vegetable products and betel leaves (USD 12 million), natural rubber (USD 12 million), and coconut products (USD 10 million).
Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce Rishath Bathiyutheen noted that six MoUs had been signed during President Maithripala Sirisena's visit to Pakistan in April.
"The topics of discussion included sugar and cement industry cooperation, direct flights as well as the agreement to increase annual bilateral trade to USD 1 billion. We are now working towards this goal," he said.