Belgian envoy keen to fortify partnership with Pakistan

KARACHI: Ambassador of Belgium Philippe Bronchain, while expressing his keen to reinforce and strengthen partnership between Pakistan and Belgium, stressed the need to enhance trade and investment cooperation between the two countries as there are lots of things that can be done in different sectors of the economy which would prove beneficial for Belgium and Pakistan, says a Press release.
Exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), the Ambassador added that the business & industrial community of Karachi must look in to the possibility of exploring trade and investment opportunities in Belgium which although was not a huge country but very open and has the second largest port in Europe along with excellent pharmaceutical and other major industries.
Trade Commissioner at the Embassy of Belgium in Pakistan Abid Husain, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail, Chairman of KCCI’s Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Shamoon Zaki and Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.
The Ambassador said that trade, investment, economic and friendly relations between the two countries are very important to him and he has a mission to make these stronger. “We would like to contribute towards further promoting mutual understanding between our two countries and we also need to promote the image and perception about Pakistan”, he added.
He was of the opinion that both countries must identify more areas for cooperation and introduce more tradable items to enhance the existing trade volume while Pakistani business community should benefit from the geographical location of Belgium in European Union. There should be more interaction between the business communities of the two countries to enhance trade and economic cooperation, he stressed.
Earlier President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while welcoming the Ambassador, pointed out that during FY18, Pakistan exported goods worth $666.4 million while the imports from Belgium amounted to $518.6 million.
He noted that in Dec 2014, KCCI organized Belgian Companies’ Catalogues Exhibition in collaboration with the Embassy of Belgium in its efforts to promote bilateral trade which was followed by another Belgian Companies’ Catalogue Exhibition held in March 2017 at KCCI.
Agha Shahab said that Belgium is one of Pakistan’s largest trading partner within EU. Belgium has extended consistent support that helped Pakistan acquire GSP Plus status in 2013. It has also provided humanitarian assistance during the floods in Pakistan in 2010. “Governor Punjab recently visited Brussels to help getting extension of GSP Plus status till 2022. A decision on this vital issue is expected in March 2020. Cooperation in education is also on the rise as there are increasing number of partnerships between universities in Belgium and the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan”, he added.
Commenting on potential to enhance trade and investment cooperation between Pakistan and Belgium, President KCCI said that as Pakistan is the fifth largest producer of milk and Belgium has been producing world-class dairy and confectionary products particularly the excellent dry milk and chocolates, the business communities of the two countries must undertake Joint Ventures in these sectors. “If JVs are not possible, we must look into the possibility technology transfer, technical collaboration or licensing to Pakistani companies”, he said, adding that Belgium is the gateway to European Union therefore, the Pakistani exporters should not remain confined to just five traditional items but diversify their exports by sending non-traditional items as well, particularly fruits.
Belgium has expertise in engineering, automobile sector, chemicals industry, crystal & glass products, electrical and electronic. Therefore, there are good prospects for undertaking joint ventures in Pakistan. These industries have made Belgium among the top 10 destinations for foreign direct investment worldwide. Joint ventures in these industries can help Pakistan’s efforts to attract FDI.
He said that as Belgium is eyeing the global halal trade, the business communities of the two countries must look into the possibility of collaborating with each other in this important sector as Pakistan is ideally located at the center of the Halal Silk Road towards gulf Muslim countries. Pakistan can help Belgium 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 added.
He further mentioned that tourism can greatly help enhance people to people cooperation as Pakistan has lots of beautiful places for Belgian tourists to explore. “Being aware of the energy needs, Belgium can offer Pakistan its help in oil and gas exploration.”
Agha Shahab also invited Belgian business community to participate in KCCI’s forthcoming “My Karachi: Oasis of Harmony” exhibition in order to well-understand Pakistan’s retail market and establish direct links with Karachi’s business community.

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