KARACHI: Sri Lankan Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardana Thursday said, Pakistan has been a long-standing friend and a key trading partner of Sri Lanka in the South Asian region. Free Trade Agreement has been operational between the two countries since 2005 which contributed substantial surge in the bilateral trade volumes between the two countries, he said. Dr. Bandula said this in his address during an exclusive B2B meeting with the office bearers and members of the Pakistan Sri Lanka Business Forum at a hotel here. Dr. Bandula expressed joy in sharing his views with a gathering of businessmen of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, who he said, have already shown interest in doing business with Sri Lanka. He said that today we are facing many unprecedented challenges when we think of doing import and investment businesses. He said that Sri Lanka’s export to Pakistan reached $ 74 million despite the devastating impact of Covid, this, he said, shows the resilient status of our exports to Pakistan. Our businessmen need to be inspired by our strong historical ties and collective wisdom of our political leaders to take our businesses to new heights, he added. He said that the economic development is an urgent priority of the incumbent Government of Sri Lanka; the economic strategy presented in the National Policy Framework of “Vistas of Prosperity and Splendors”, clearly articulates the development of a strong trade relationship with Asian countries under its friendly and non-aliened Foreign Policy. He said that today’s event for him is a good example of the commitment the Government towards realizing the promise it has made. He said that our economic policies have accelerated the development process, and have opened new vistas for investment and business opportunities in the country. As highlighted in the National Budget -2022, the Economic growth of Sri Lanka is expected to be more than six percent during the five-year period from 2022 to 2027, he said He added that many proposals were announced in the National Budget-2022 aiming at encouraging investment and business activities in the country. He said that today, top Sri Lankan exports to Pakistan include Betel Leaves, Woven Fabrics, Coconut Products, MDF & Fibre Boards, Textile Articles, and Electrical & Electronic products while major Pakistani exports to Sri Lanka include Woven Fabrics, Mineral Products, Cereals, Pharmaceutical Products and Potatoes. President Pakistan Sri Lanka Business Forum, Aslam Parkhali along with Founding Chairman of the Forum Majyd Aziz also presented shield to Sri Lankan Minister of Trade Dr. Bandula Gunawardana.