COLOMBO: A delegation of Sri Lanka has arrived here to negotiate with the Pakistani team to finalize the issue of exporting 300,000 tons rice to Sri Lanka. A high level Sri Lankan delegation has started bilateral negotiations for reaching the final agreements to export non-basmati rice to Sri Lanka, Senior official of ministry of commerce told APP here on Monday. A meeting in this regard would be held here Monday headed by Secretary Commerce Younas Dhaga in which the two side would discuss the modus operandi and procedure for exporting non-Basmati rice to Sri Lanka, he said.
Pakistan produces roughly 700,000 tons of rice annually, and is leading the regional countries in production of Basmati and non Basmati rice,official said. He said the government would support the Sri Lankan delegation for talks at government to government, and government to business level. The official said that Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and representative of local rice association were also participating in negotiation.
He said that domestic production of rice in Sri Lanka was low and they are willing to import non Basmati rice from Pakistan. It may be mentioned here that Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Sri Lanka was operational from 2005. He said under the FTA, both of the country have already agreed to offer preferential market access to each others’ exports by way of granting tariff concessions. Additionally, he said according to FTA, Sri Lanka would be able to enjoy duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market including tea, rubber and coconut. Pakistan, in return, would gain duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market, including oranges, basmati/non basmati rice and engineering goods.