Long term business
visas to Pakistan under consideration
Pakistan High Commissioner Shahzad A. Chaudhury said last week that Pakistan is one of the fastest growing economies in Asia.
Pakistan had a solid pace of economic development with an average of 7.5% during the past three years – July 2003 to June 2006, making it one of the fast growing economies in the world, he told the Sri Lanka Pakistan Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce at a meeting recently.
Other highlights of his address were: per capita income rose by 14.2% reaching US$.847, a sharp pickup in overall investment reaching 20% of GDP coupled with a robust consumer spending; foreign direct investment of US$.3,52 billion; overall inflation down to 6.2% in July 2006, as compared to July 2005 level of 9%; growth of imports and exports at the double digit level in $billion; US$4.5 billion foreign remittances by the Pakistani community mainly due to reforms in the banking sector; foreign exchange reserves of US$.13.1 billion; continuingly stable exchange rate for the Pakistan rupee for several years; launch of 10 and 30 years 144A sovereign bonds worth US$800 million in international debt capital markets.
Business Council President Gulam S Chatoor said though the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries had been in existence for over 18 months, the anticipated growth in trade and investments is yet to take place. He said one of the prerequisites for increasing trade and investments between the two countries is “easy travel” between the two countries, which has been one of the major concern of the Sri Lankan businessmen traveling to Pakistan
Chaudhary, in response, said the Pakistan administration understands the situation and assured that long term visas will be positively considered.
The high commissioner said a Gemology Institute will be established in Pakistan by Sri Lanka soon, as well as a Sri Lankan supermarket chain will be set-up in Pakistan.
Along with the easing of issuance of business visas, he also stated that landing in Lahore rights have been approved for Sri Lankan Airlines, though flights are yet to take place.