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LAHORE: Ambassador of Belgium Philippe Bronchain has said that his country can be a great transit hub for Pakistani exports to Europe. He was speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, Vice President Haris Ateeq, Executive Committee Members Naeem Hanif, Saleem Asghar Bhatti, Mian Jabbar Khalid, Shahzad Butt, Ahmed Elahi and Belgian Trade Commissioner Abid Hussain also spoke on the occasion.

The Ambassador urged the Pakistani businessmen to ensure their presence at global level instead of keeping themselves limited to a particular region. He said that Belgium is not only an export destination for Pakistani merchandise but is also providing access to the European Union. He said that Pakistani exporters should establish warehouses and display centers in Belgium to have a great access to EU member countries.

He said that GSP Plus Status to Pakistan is under study and it is subject to the implementation of conventions. He said that the visa policy was tightened due to Covid-19 and it is being relaxed according to the situation.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Belgium enjoys a key position in the European and international economy. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and home to many international organizations including NATO. He said that Brussels is not only the capital of country but it also houses the European Commission which is the executive body of European Union.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan and Belgium have very cordial diplomatic relations and both the countries have been steady trading partners as well. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan has favourable balance of trade with Belgium that comes simultaneously at 6th place among the top importing as well as exporting countries for Pakistan in European Union.

The LCCI President said that in 2019-20, the value of bilateral trade was $824 million which went up to slightly more than $1 billion in 2020-21 due to rise in both imports and exports between two countries. He said that during that period, Pakistan’s exports to Belgium increased from $517 million to $588 million while our imports surged from $307 million to $420 million.

He said that following the same trend, the Pakistan’s exports to Belgium during the first four months of current financial year have reached $228 million and imports have been recorded up to $171 million. Hopefully, by the end of this financial year, we will succeed in achieving better trade figures. You will agree with me that we need to make joint efforts to take the level of bilateral trade to at least $2 billion.

The LCCI President said that the major items of Pakistan’s exports to Belgium are Textile products followed by Rice, Leather, Tobacco and Copper etc. Pakistan imports from Belgium include pharmaceutical products, articles of plastics, machinery and organic chemicals etc.

He said that there are great prospects of increasing trade through diversification of products on the basis of GSP plus status awarded to Pakistan by the European Commission. The potential areas where both countries can increase trade are sports goods, surgical instruments, furniture and automotive parts.

Mian Nauman Kabir 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, dairy, fertilizers and many more. “We also value the increasing academic cooperation between two countries as a growing number of Pakistani students are studying in Belgian Universities,” he added.

The LCCI President further stated that Belgium is known for making the best chocolates in the world and quite famous for its waffles, fries, hamburgers and spaghetti Bolognese. It was good to listen that Belgium has some of the best music festivals in the world.

“It is interesting to know that politics of Belgium take place in the framework of a federal, representative democratic, and constitutional monarchy. The King of the Belgians is the head of state, and the Prime Minister of Belgium is the head of government, in a multi-party system”, Mian Nauman Kabir concluded.

The LCCI office-bearers said that Pakistan is ready to make a huge investment in textile sector but uncertainty regarding GSP Plus Status is coming in way. They said that Pakistan is implementing all conventions regarding GSP Plus Status in true sense of words.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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