Pakistani officials are negotiating with a Sri Lankan delegation that has arrived in Islamabad to finalize deal to export 300,000 Metric Tonnes (MT) of rice to Sri Lanka. According to a senior official of Pakistan Ministry of Commerce, a high level Sri Lankan delegation, led by the Secretary to the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Mr. Chinthana Lokuhetti, has started bilateral negotiations for reaching the final agreements to export non-basmati rice to Sri Lanka. The two sides would discuss the modus operandi and procedure for exporting non-Basmati rice to Sri Lanka in a meeting, headed by Pakistan Secretary Commerce Mr. Younas Dhaga. Pakistan which produces roughly 700,000 tons of rice annually and is leading the regional countries in production of Basmati and non-Basmati rice would support the Sri Lankan delegation for talks at government to government, and government to business level. Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and representative of local rice association were also participating in negotiation.
Pakistan and Sri Lanka enjoy a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) since 2005. Under the FTA, Sri Lanka enjoys duty free market access on 206 products in the Pakistani market including tea, rubber and coconut while Pakistan gets duty free access on 102 products in the Sri Lankan market, including oranges, basmati/non-basmati rice and engineering goods. The Sri Lankan team will travel to Myanmar from Islamabad on July 12 to test Burmese rice varieties for the Sri Lankan market. Sri Lanka Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen said that the team, after checking both Pakistani and Myanmar markets, will decide whether to choose Pakistan or Myanmar (or both) to purchase the rice.