LAHORE: A delegation of Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) left for the United States of America (USA) here on Saturday on a two-week visit to explore new markets and strengthen existing bilateral trade ties with the American business community.
The PFC delegation, headed by its Chief Executive Mian Muhammad Kashif, will avail the opportunity to study the latest designing of products and modern technologies in their fields to improve their businesses to compete in the global markets.
Prior to departure for America, Mian Kashif told the media that such business-oriented tours could play a pivotal role for Pakistani furniture manufacturers in achieving furniture export target of more than one billion dollars annually in the international furniture markets.
To a question, he said Pakistan's major buyers of wooden furniture were Britain, USA, Sri Lanka and Gulf countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kuwait.
He said that the United States mostly purchases bedroom furniture, while the UK and the Gulf countries import kitchen and office furniture.
He said that a British retail chain had sold some Pakistani furniture at its outlets and more than 80 per cent of the furniture demand there was met by Chinioti furniture.
Combined with handicraft industry, he added that the furniture industry was employing about 50,000 people.
The PFC chief mentioned that Japan had great scope for Pakistani furniture, because they liked Pakistani traditional hand-carved furniture designs with classic finishing and similar designs could be replicated in the USA market; therefore, efforts must be made to promote furniture exports by more regular participation in international shows.
All this could happen with the support of the government and a vision among furniture traders.
He said that furniture with calligraphic engraving had great demand in local and international markets, which seemed to be dominant trend in Pakistan.
Therefore, Pakistani craftsmen should focus on working in this particular area to earn the much-needed foreign exchange.
In this regard, he appreciated the PFC role in bringing the latest technical know-how in Pakistan to develop local furniture industry for manufacturing quality products, competitive in the international market.
About boosting furniture exports, he said that the government should remove hurdles in this regard and take steps to curb 'Sheesham' wood smuggling in the garb of raw material, besides awarding the furniture a status of full-fledged industry.
On this occasion, PFC Secretary Hamid Mahmood said that the Council was planning a strategy to enhance exports and this sector could touch more than US$850 million export target by the year-end if training centre are opened in the country for imparting modern skills.
Exports to Italy, France, the USA made around 55 per cent of total exports, he added.
He said that the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) should support exporters of furniture at international furniture exhibitions, assign that Pakistani foreign missions should also explore new avenues and hold fairs in their respective countries.