Prime Ministers Imran Khan and Mahinda Rajapaksa agree to enhance bilateral trade to US$ 1 billion
: The Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged a US$ 50 million credit line for Sri Lankan defense projects, the Joint Communique issued on Wednesday at the end of his two-day visit to Sri Lanka said.
The communique also said that efforts will be made to increase bilateral trade to US$ 1 billion. Presently it is about US$ 460 million while the potential is stated to be US$ 2.7 billion.
On defense, both sides expressed satisfaction at the existing bilateral cooperation in the field of defense, and noted that the elevation of staff-level talks to Defense Dialogue has further provided an opportunity to expand security sector relations.
“Prime Minister Imran Khan announced a new US$ 50 million defense credit line facility. The two sides stressed the need for stronger partnership for supporting and coordinating with each other in dealing with matters related to security, terrorism, organized crime and drug and narcotic trafficking as well as intelligence-sharing,” the communique said.
In order to explore new avenues for enhancing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries, a high-level Pakistan-Sri Lanka Trade and Investment Conference was held on 24 February. The Conference provided an opportunity for effective and meaningful engagement between the business communities of the two countries.
The two sides stressed the importance of realizing the goal of achieving US$ 1 billion bilateral trade target and also agreed to work towards broadening and deepening of Pakistan Sri Lank Free Trade Agreement.
BRI and CPEC
Stressing regional connectivity, the Pakistan Prime Minister highlighted the opportunities presented by China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a flagship project of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), for regional economic growth and prosperity.
The Pakistan side announced 100 scholarships in the field of medicine (MBBS and BDS) as part of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Higher Education Cooperation Program (PSLHECP). The Sri Lankan side appreciated the cooperation being extended by Pakistan in human resource development and capacity building.
Asian Civilization Centre
“While realizing the existence of great potential of religious tourism to Buddhist archeological sites and noting the close ancient and cultural ties dating back to Gandhara civilization, the two sides underscored the importance of enhancing cooperation in the field of tourism and highlighted the benefits of sharing expertise in the hospitality industry, including training and capacity building.
“The Pakistan side announced its initiative of establishing Asian Civilization and Culture Centre at University of Peradeniya, Kandy. Both sides recognized the importance of enhancing air connectivity to promote people-to-people contact, tourism, trade and culture,” the communique said.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on tourism promotion and cooperation between Board of Investment of Sri Lanka and the Board of Investment of Pakistan were signed. Another MoU envisaged cooperation between the Industrial Technology Institute (ITI) of Sri Lanka and the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, University of Karachi, Pakistan. Cooperation between Industrial Technology Institute of Sri Lanka and COMSATS University Islamabad was the subject matter of yet another MoU. The University of Colombo and Lahore School of Economics have agreed to collaborate.
Prime Minister Imran Khan and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa jointly acknowledged the reconstitution of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Association. Both sides underscored the need to strengthen parliamentary cooperation between the two sides.
“Imran Khan Sports Center’
The Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, in his efforts to strengthen sports diplomacy, participated at an interactive session with the sports community of Sri Lanka on Wednesday. At this event, Sri Lanka’s Minister of Sports and Youth Namal Rajapaksa, in the presence of the Parliament Speaker Mahinda Yapa Abeywardane, announced the commissioning of the “Imran Khan High Performance Sports Centre” in Colombo.
The Pakistan side announced its decision to provide PKR 52 million (US$ 327,916) for promotion of sports in Sri Lanka, including through training and equipment.
Both sides underlined the importance of inter-religious dialogue and harmony as a key to promote cultural diversity, peaceful co-existence and mutual empathy.
The two sides noted the close cooperation between the two countries at regional and international fora on issues of mutual interest, and agreed to further strengthen a coordinated approach on such matters.
Both sides reiterated their commitment to the principles and objectives of the SAARC Charter and stressed the need of SAARC Member countries to build on convergences, for greater good of the people in the region.
They also stressed the need to convene the Charter Based bodies and agreed to take forward the SAARC process for further strengthening regional cooperation to achieve prosperity in the region.
Peaceful Resolution of Disputes
Discussing the developments in regional and global environment the two sides reaffirmed their joint commitment to regional peace, security and stability. Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the need for peaceful resolution of outstanding disputes through constructive dialogue in accordance with international legitimacy.
Discussing the unprecedented challenges posed by COVID- 19, the two sides underscored the need for collective efforts to deal with the pandemic. Sri Lanka thanked Pakistan for the tremendous assistance extended to the repatriation of stranded Sri Lankans in Pakistan since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Both sides reached broad consensus on ways and means to further strengthen cooperation in a comprehensive manner and agreed to hold frequent meetings; promote high-level and delegation-level exchanges; and enhance the process of consultations, cooperation and coordination between their respective institutions.
Prime Minister Imran Khan reiterated Pakistan’s support for the socio-economic development of Sri Lanka in line with the vision of a “peaceful neighborhood”, the communique said.
While reiterating the commitment of the new government to further strengthen the bilateral relations, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Mahinda Rajapaksa thanked the government and the people of Pakistan for the constant support extended by Pakistan to safeguard the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka.
The Prime Minister of Pakistan extended an invitation to the President and the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka to visit Pakistan at their earliest convenience. He thanked Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa for the warm hospitality extended to him and his delegation.