The Pakistani government has reduced the duty on Sri Lankan betel exports to 20% from a previous 35% and also abolished the existing quota system for this commodity following talks Export Development and International Trade Minister Prof. G. L. Peiris held with Pakistani Commerce Minister Humayun Akthar Khan in Islamabad recently.
This duty concession will benefit farmers in a big way and boost Sri Lanka`s betel exports to Pakistan.
Unlike earlier when Sri Lanka could export only 1200 MT to Pakistan under an annual quota system, the new agreement reached between Prof. Peiris and Minister Akthar Khan paves the way for unlimited exports in keeping with the growing demand, an official news release said.
Prof. Peiris led a delegation to Islamabad for talks with his Pakistani counterpart for the first ministerial review meeting after the implementation of the Pakistan-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement in June 2005.
Under this Agreement, the primary imports from Pakistan are rice, dry fish, potatoes, big onions, cotton and textiles while Sri Lanka exports rubber, betel leaves, desiccated coconuts, spices, copra, natural graphite, pineapples and tamarind.
After this significant achievement, Minister Peiris directed relevant officials to organize a meeting of MPs representing betel cultivating areas so that they could enlighten farmers on the benefits of this duty concession and the abolition of the quota system, the news release said.
On a request by Prof. Peiris, Minister Akthar Khan also agreed to grant a similar tax concession to Sri Lankan exporters of locally produced herbal cosmetics.
The Sri Lankan delegation led by Minister Peiris comprised Investment Promotion Minister Mano Wijeratne, Commerce Department Director General Manel de Silva while the Pakistani delegation headed by the Commerce Minister comprised Asif Shah and Shahzad A. Chaudhry, the Pakistani High Commissioner in Sri Lanka.