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British Dy HC perceives Pakistan as an emerging frontier market

KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group & former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Siraj Kassam Teli, while thoroughly briefing the British Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis about KCCI and BMG at a meeting during his visit to KCCI, informed that KCCI with a strong membership base of more than 22,000 members, which is even greater than the accumulated membership of all other 42 Chambers of Commerce across Pakistan, has been successfully resolving issues being faced by the business and industrial community, says a Press release.
Siraj Teli said, “Businessmen Group has been running KCCI’s affairs since last 22 years and every year we have been winning all the elections, of which many elections were won unopposed. Thanks to Almighty Allah and of course the support of business & industrial community of Karachi, we have not lost a single seat and the reason behind this success is our motto of Public Service.”
“We represent Karachi which is the industrial, financial and commercial hub and the largest city with a huge population of 22 million people, spread over a land of more than 3500 sq. kilometers and around 16,000 industries are also operational here in all seven industrial zones who are also affiliated with KCCI. We actively participate in government’s exchequer to the tune of around 70 percent. We get involved in everything that concerns Karachi at federal, provincial and local government levels. We talk about Karachi and anything that impacts this city whether it is law & order, infrastructure or any other issue”, he added.
Commenting on British Pakistan relations, Siraj Teli said that many Pakistanis especially some of those living in Karachi consider UK as their second home. A lot of people frequently visit UK for business, holidays and studies etc. It is very heartening to see that over 60 British companies have invested here and are successfully running their businesses in Pakistan. Pakistan and UK have been enjoying very close relations and it was really encouraging to see that many MoUs have been signed between different entities of the two countries however, a lot more still needs to be done and steps have to be taken from both sides to further improve the existing trade volume.
While referring to UK’s exit from European Union by the end of January 2020, Siraj Teli suggested that the British Deputy High Commission and Karachi Chamber should form a Special Committee which must be given the task to review any issue likely to emerge after UK’s exit from EU that may affect businesses and accordingly give recommendations on how to deal with them in order to ensure smooth trade between the two countries.
In response to British Deputy High Commissioner’s remarks about travel advisory, Chairman BMG said, “The law and order was not an issue in Karachi any more. Karachi is much safer than Lahore today. The law & order situation was very bad before 2013 but the city is spread over an area of 3500 square kilometers and sometimes, if anything happened in one corner of the city, the rest of the city doesn’t even know until it is broadcasted by TV Channels. BBC and CNN highlighted Karachi in such a manner that the world would say Karachi is too bad and it should not be visited. He said that the previous five or may be six British Deputy High Commissioners in Karachi always moved freely and attended a lot of social gatherings.”
As Karachi is much better than what it was seven years back hence, Siraj Teli requested British Deputy High Commissioner to ask the relevant authority in UK to change the advisory for Karachi so that maximum visitors from UK could come and visit this city.
Speaking on the occasion, British Deputy High Commissioner Mike Nithavrianakis stated that Pakistan is an emerging frontier market that deserves greater attention hence, the Department for International Trade (DIT) is increasing its resources to Pakistan. “There is recognition that we should be doing more and there is a greater opportunity here. With more DIT resources, we will have greater capacity to not only support British businesses who are keen to explore Pakistani market but also assist the Pakistani companies looking forward to get engaged with UK companies”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
British Envoy said that 5,000 British companies are operating in UAE, very few of which are doing business in Pakistan. If they are already in the region and so close to Pakistan then they should be exploring Pakistan’s market more seriously. “We are encouraging these British companies to explore Pakistani market but bringing new British companies is a challenge because of Pakistan’s perception which needs to be changed.”
He further stated that although Islamabad is an important city but Karachi is also very important from a business perspective as it is the commercial and financial services hub where so many key companies and entities are headquartered including the Karachi Chamber of Commerce, Pakistan Stock Exchange, State Bank, Pakistan Business Council, OICCI and many others. “We do have some resources in Islamabad and Lahore as well but majority of the team is based here at British Deputy High Commission in Karachi because of its significance”, he added.
Terming UK-Pakistan relationship as unique, he said, “Both countries have been enjoying very warm and conducive partnership and we are ambitious to take this partnership to the new level as we believe that UK’s departure from European Union which is going to happen on 31st of January 2020 gives us the opportunity to do that. With 1.5 million British People of Pakistani origin which is 2.5 percent of UK’s population, the Pakistani diaspora is involved in businesses, entrepreneurism, civil society, politics, journalism, sports, culture and media.
Referring to UK Pakistan bilateral trade and investment, British Envoy said, “It’s a positive and good story but it could be much better in both the directions. The export business from Pakistan is obviously of more interest to Pakistani and British governments but we would be keen to see what we can do to support the expansion of two-way trade and investment. Pakistan’s exports to UK have grown, particularly in the textile sector because there are specific incentives and rules & regulations but I think UK could be exporting much more to Pakistan and there are other sectors of Pakistan’s economy that could see the UK as a market for their exports. We are in a good position but we should be doing much better.”
He was of the opinion that Pakistan with a huge population 250 million and large middle-class offers opportunities in infrastructure, energy, healthcare, education, professional services and defense & security.
Senior Vice President KCCI Arshad Islam, Vice President KCCI Shahid Ismail, Chairman Diplomatic Mission & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Shamoon Zaki and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.

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