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CEPA final list out soon

Sri Lanka and Pakistan Commerce Ministries are in the process of finalizing the list of priority products under the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) which is to be signed between the two countries shortly, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Director General Nusrat Iqbal Jamshed said yesterday.

He said the list will be out within one month. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and Pakistani Premier Yusuf Raza Gilani agreed on the need to transforming the existing Free Trade Agreement between the two countries to a Comprehensive Economic Partnership, on the sidelines of the NAM summit in Egypt last Wednesday. In a meeting with a delegation of Sri Lankan journalists, the TDAP Director General said Sri Lanka could find a sound market for coconut oil, vegetable and fruits such as papaya and pineapple in Pakistan.

The TDAP is the successor organization to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Operated under the Commerce Ministry, it is dedicated to the development and promotion of goods and services for exports globally.

He was of the view that the two countries could get together in opening up new market for tea in the world. He proposed for a joint venture with a base in Karachchi for this purpose.

Pakistan exports pharmaceutical products, rice, potatoes, carpets, costume jewellery, leather products and textile and clothing to Sri Lanka.

Pakistan's first Free Trade Agreement was signed with Sri Lanka in 2005. Jamshed called on Sri Lanka to use Pakistan as a gateway to China and the developing market in the CIS countries which includes former Soviet Republics like Russia and Ukraine where our tea market is thriving. He said the transportation of goods via Pakistan will prune time by half for Sri Lankan traders whereas via Afghanistan or Turkey this will be high.

Talking about the almost non-operative South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), he said trade has no barrier and the politics which is affecting the free operations of this valuable agreement should be cleared.

This is a very beautiful bargaining tool (for the collective of SAARC nations) against the developing world.

The TDAP Director General said they hope to increase overall exports by 20 percent by next year in the sectors textile, agro food, mineral, human services, milk and processed meat.



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