Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari Friday urged early conclusion of bilateral Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka and said it would broaden economic and business ties between the two countries.
Talking to Minister of External Affairs Prof. G.L. Peiris at the Aiwan-e-Sadr, Islamabad, the President said the economic partnership would boost investment, improve services, customs cooperation and standardization. President Zardari called upon the business communities and Chambers of Commerce of Pakistan and Sri Lanka to play their vital role in fully exploiting the huge trade and business potential of the two countries in diverse fields. He also called for making optimum utilization of the available trade facilities and mechanisms between the two sides.
"The existing trade volume between the two countries can easily be jacked up to US$ 2 billion by harnessing the huge trade potential in various fields especially financial and banking sector, science and technology, defence, agriculture, tourism, gems and Jewellery," the President said.The meeting was attended by Senator Salim H. Mandviwala, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar, Secretary to the President Nasreen Haque, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, Noor Muhammad Jadmani, Special Secretary (AP), and Asif Durrani, additional secretary.Air Chief Marshal Jayalath Weerakkody, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka was also resent.
Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Pakistan-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual interest were discussed during the meeting.
President Zardari said Pakistan was keen to further deepen and diversify trade and commercial ties with Sri Lanka and in this regard called for making fully operational their Free Trade Agreement, the Customs Cooperation Agreement and the Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Recalling his meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the President said the two countries have always enjoyed special bonds of affinity and their relations transcends governmental level and permeate to the level of the people, parliamentarians and business communities.
The President said Pakistan - Sri Lanka bilateral ties have been marked by a measure of consistency and commonality of views on important regional and global issues and the two countries have stood together and supported each other in all important matters concerning our two countries.
The Spokesperson said the President expressed satisfaction on the level of Pakistan - Sri Lankan close cooperation at the multilateral forums especially the UN and also at the SAARC level.
The President said Pakistan has always supported Sri Lanka in its endeavour to defeat terrorism and reiterated that Pakistan would continue extending support to Sri Lanka at the UN Human Rights Council and UN Security Council.
Prof. Peiris said Sri Lanka values its relations with Pakistan and desires to further deepen and broaden it.
He said that the two countries would continue to stand together at regional and multilateral forums.