Lahore, November 22 – Ambassador of Belgium Frederic Verheyden has said that trade between Belgium and Pakistan needs special focus although the exports and imports figures are on the rise.
He was talking to the LCCI President Abdul Basit and Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan on the occasion of Catalogues Exhibition of Belgian Companies here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Trade Commissioner of Belgian Embassy Abid M. Hussain, the LCCI Executive Committee Members Khamis Saeed Butt, Mian Abdul Razzak Hassam Ali Asghar, Zeeshan Khali, Ch. Muhammad Arshad and Shahid Nazir Chaudhry were also present on the occasion.
While underlining the importance of trade and economic ties between the two countries, the Ambassador said that both countries should identify more areas for cooperation and should also introduce more tradable items to enhance mutual trade volume. He said that visa policy for the businessmen of both countries should be liberalized so that they could make their business travels with quite ease. He said that Belgian companies have shown keen interest in Pakistani market. He urged the Pakistani businessmen to start joint ventures with their Belgian counterparts. They said that Pakistan should take full advantage of best geographical position of Belgium in European Union.
Trade Commissioner of Belgian Embassy Abid M. Hussain said that Belgian productivity is amongst the highest in the world and it also accounts almost 4% of the world exports. He said that last year’s visit of a 12-member Belgian trade delegation to Karachi and Lahore is an ample proof that interest of Belgian businessmen in Pakistan is growing. He said that Belgium is fifth largest trading partner of Pakistan in European Union that is itself a significant achievement for both countries.
The LCCI President Abdul Basit said that Catalogues Exhibition of Belgian companies was focused to familiarize the domestic business community with the technological potentials and technical expertise available in various sectors of the Belgian Companies.
“To name a few areas for which Belgium is well known around the globe include engineering, automobile sector, chemicals industry, crystal & glass products, electrical and electronic sector etc. This initiative is taken to provide the local businesses with the opportunity to look for potential Belgian business partners in such promising sectors”, the LCCI President added.
He said that Pakistan and Belgium have been steady investment and trading partners for the last many years. Among the top exporting and importing countries for Pakistan in EU after the Brexit, Belgium is ranked at 5th and 6th places respectively.
Abdul Basit said that traditionally, the bilateral trade has been in favour of Pakistan. In 2014, the level of bilateral trade went up as high as dollar 882 million but in 2015, it went down to dollar 817 million owing to 7% decrease in our exports to Belgium. To be more specific, the exports of Pakistan to Belgium contracted from dollar 658 million to dollar 592 million in that period. However, the imports inched up from dollar 224 million to dollar 225 million.
Major items of exports to Belgium are bed linens, articles of apparel, rice, woven fabric of cotton, hosiery items, and sport goods etc. The items that are imported from Belgium include pharmaceutical products, weaving machines, waste of iron & steel, agricultural machinery, electrical and electronic equipment etc.
The LCCI Vice President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan said that this initiative should not remain limited to holding catalogue exhibition. Both countries should have regular exchange of trade delegations to augment the existing trade and investment relations between two countries. He also appreciated continuous liaison of the Belgian Embassy with LCCI. He said that there are good prospects for undertaking joint venture projects in Pakistan with the help of Belgian experience and technical know how in the fields of agro food processing, chemicals, paper & board, gems & jewelry, dairy and fertilizers etc.