Karachi: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s President Muhammad Haroon Agar has stressed the need to foster Pakistan Belgium bilateral economic and commercial cooperation.
Belgium, being the Capital of Europe and centre of European politics and policy making, should support the efforts for signing free trade agreement between Pakistan and EU; he said exchanging views with the Ambassador of Belgium to Pakistan Peter Claes during his visit to KCCI here Wednesday.
He articulated that Pakistan endeavours to achieve GSP plus status in European Union, Brussels’ support in this regard is imperative. He appreciated Belgium’s consistent support for grant of Autonomous Trade Preferences for Pakistan in EU in the wake of devastating floods in Pakistan.
He stated that keeping in view mounting economic crises in Europe there is need to develop close ties between European Countries and Pakistan to get mutual benefits. Pakistan can help to Belgium to expand its trade to Central Asian Countries, China, India and Middle East while Belgium in turn could help Pakistan to expand its trade with European countries.
He also proposed signing of MoU between KCCI and Brussels Chamber of Commerce to enhance exchange of trade information, trade delegations. Pakistan and Belgium maintains healthy bilateral relations with each other as both the countries are engaged in bilateral trade of goods and services.
The export volume of Pakistan to Belgium reached $ 420Mn while imports amounted to $ 354Mn in 2012. Belgian expertise in engineering, automobile sector, chemicals industry, crystal & glass products, electrical and electronic sector is well known around the globe. Therefore, there are good prospects for undertaking joint ventures in Pakistan with the help of Belgian experience and technical knowhow in a number of fields.
Major items of exports to Belgian are textiles products, cotton, articles of leather, cereals, sport goods etc. The items that are imported from Belgium include iron & steel, machinery, pharmaceutical products, chemical products, electrical and electronic equipment etc.
He assured the Karachi Chamber’s best support and cooperation for matchmaking Belgian companies with their Pakistan counterparts.
Ambassador Peter Claes said that Belgium and Pakistan have cordial political relationship; however, bilateral trade is not aligned with the existing trade potential between two countries. Countries around the world have yet to discover the strength of Pakistan as a country with lot of potential and strengths.
He stated that Belgium is the 5th largest exporter and its exports to Pakistan in 2012 were $ 800 Million whereas total volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Belgium is around $ 800 Million. He commented that new foreign investment is not coming to Pakistan owing to negative perception of the country around the globe which needs correction. The western media depict unfair picture of Pakistan abroad based on individual events. Positive news about Pakistan hardly comes in the media.
He voiced that the tendencies and feelings of the business communities should be fairly conveyed and communicated. He advised the Belgian businesspersons to trust their Pakistani counterparts for their business trips as the on ground situation is different as compared to portrayed in the media.
He asserted upon the need of people to people contacts. He stated that to enhance reciprocal trade between two countries, economic integration, and exchange of delegations is imperative. The Belgian Embassy is working to make the business visa procedures easier to facilitate businesses. He appreciated continuation of democratic system in Pakistan and hoped peaceful elections will be conducted. Democracy in Pakistan achieved a landmark with completion of 5 years by the last government.
He apprised that Belgian companies have shown interest in agriculture sector, ports development, infrastructure development, oil and gas exploration. Being aware of the energy needs Belgium can offer Pakistan its help in LPG/LNG terminals, oil and gas exploration. He opined that Pakistan’s regional trade is highly encouraged, particularly with India and other regional countries.