LAHORE: Ambassador of European Union (EU) Lars Gunnar Wigemark has said that EU wants to enhance trade relations with Pakistan.
The Ambassador was talking to LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari during a visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. LCCI vice President Kashif Anwar, Executive Committee members Zafar Mehmood and Talha Tayyab Butt were present on the occasion.
The Ambassador said that liberalization of trade with India would bring the prices of commodities down and the consumers will benefit from increase in trading relations.
The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) Plus, has given better market access to the products made in Pakistan to the whole of European Union which had some 500 million inhabitants. The EU would like to enhance its trade with Pakistan, he added.
“It is very much now in the hands of the business community, both here in Pakistan and the European Union to utilize this facility available since January for boosting trade between the two sides.
Emphasizing on the new areas of trade, the EU ambassador said it should not only be confined to ‘just bed linen and towels’ but should also include readymade garments of good quality because there was higher profit margin and because Pakistan was better placed in the region as both China and India did not enjoy GSP facility. Of the 10 countries which were given GSP status, Pakistan was the largest country with the largest economy, he added.
Lars-Gunnar appreciated many initiatives taken by the government in creating business-friendly atmosphere by ‘giving special incentives’ like introducing loan schemes for young entrepreneurs. “All of that is helpful and we see some positive signs already in the economy,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari sought the assistance in exploiting the export potential of Ireland, Slovenia and Czech Republics, which are ranked among those countries where Pakistan is maintaining exports worth much less than USD 50 million.
While expressing his deepest gratitude for GSP Plus Scheme granted by European Union Commission to Pakistan, the LCCI President said that both the sides have a very strong bond in the areas of trade and business. European Union and Pakistan go a long way in trade and commerce. Around 16.5% of Pakistan’s external trade is with European Union.
The LCCI President said that European Union is an important export destination for Pakistan as 25 per cent of total exports of the country find their way among the 28 countries of Europe. Similarly, European Union’s share in total imports of Pakistan is around 12 per cent.
He said that there is another interesting feature of Pakistan’s trade with European Union that almost 70 per cent of total exports sent to EU are with five countries namely U.K, Germany, Italy, Netherlands and Spain.
He said that Pakistani businessmen were finding more and more opportunities of market penetration in important countries like Denmark, Finland and Greece where Pakistan’s export are still below to $100 million.
There are a number of products which Pakistan is importing from European Union. Mainly these are dairy products, vegetable products, animals and vegetables fats and oils, prepared food stuff and beverages, mineral and chemical products etc.
He said that that out of top 10 items of exports, all are related to textiles with exceptions like rice and leather products. We should work on exporting agro based processed foods to EU in collaboration with European companies through joint ventures and transfer of technology.
He said that natural or cultured pearl, precious and semi precious stones can be cut, polished and ornamented according to the need of European markets.
He said that in the last three years Pakistan’s export to the European Union have been steady and on the rise. We must work further to increase this trade activity. The same trend can be witnessed in the volume of total trade which has gone to the extent of USD 11.35 billion in 2013.
He said that significant projects have been taken up by the European Union in Pakistan. Many social projects have also been completed in the areas of education, health of women in rural sector, child labor and provision of vocational training.
He urged the visiting diplomat to take up the note of request to the European Union member countries to facilitate the Pakistani students for further education in terms of some relaxation of their dues. Since the exchange rate is very high and is hence discouraging many bright and deserving students to take up higher studies.
The LCCI President said that the liaison of the private sector with European Union Embassy is very important. It will reap benefits for both of us.
He apprised that LCCI has achieved a unique milestone by establishing a Mediation Centre in collaboration with International Finance Corporation. Well trained experts were providing mediation services in order to settle any trade dispute out of court. He said that LCCI Mediation Center would serve as a confidence booster for European business community to positively consider Pakistan for trade expansion.
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