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LAHORE: The High Commissioner (HC) of Bangladesh in Pakistan Muhammad Ruhul Alam Siddique has that Pakistan is an important trade partner of Bangladesh. The work is well on the way to ease the visa issuance procedure for the businessmen of Pakistan.

He was speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Vice President Haris Ateeq and Honorary Consul General of Bangladesh Qazi Humayun Fareed also spoke on the occasion.

Former LCCI Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, former Vice President Mian Zahid Javed Ahmad, Executive Committee Members Muhammad Nadeem Malik, Saleem Asghar Bhatti, Ali Afzal, Mardan Ali Zaidi and Shamim Akhter were also present.

The High Commissioner said that exchange of trade delegation and single country exhibitions can play an instrumental role in expanding the trade volume. He said that Made in Pakistan exhibition in Bangladesh while Made in Bangladesh Exhibition should be held in Pakistan. He said that the delegation of Lahore Chamber and Dhaka Chamber should also visit each other’s country.

He said that the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh is steady at 6 to 7 per cent because of sustainable economic policies. He said that the Government of Bangladesh is going to prepare vision 2021-41 for “Digital Bangladesh” as the vision 2020-21 was very successful.

He said that the Embassy of Bangladesh in Pakistan is always ready to facilitate Pakistani businessmen Pakistani businessmen. “My target is to act as a bridge between the SME sectors of Bangladesh and Pakistan”, the High Commissioner said. He said that the pharma industry in Bangladesh has flourished and major companies are operational in this sector.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan and Bangladesh are connected with each other through deep historic and religious bonds. Both the countries, being the major members of SAARC in terms of the size of their economies after India should find ways to utilize this platform for enhancing their share in the regional trade.

He said that although, the balance of two-way trade is heavily in favour of Pakistan but at present the volume of bilateral trade is still below the actual potential. According to the State Bank of Pakistan statistics, the two way trade between Pakistan and Bangladesh was around 692 million dollars during 2020-21 as compared to 743 million dollars in 2019-20. Pakistan’s imports from Bangladesh increased from 49 million dollars in 2019-20 to 76 million dollars in 2020-21 while our exports to Bangladesh showed slight decrease from 695 million dollars in 2019-20 to 616 million dollars during 2020-21.

“We expect better trade figures this year as during the first four months of current fiscal year (July-Oct 2021), our exports to Bangladesh stood at 243 million dollars while our imports from Bangladesh were 28 million dollars”, the LCCI President added.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan is a major supplier of cotton fabrics, cement, yarn, leather, vacuum pumps and other textile items etc. to Bangladesh. On the other hand, the major imports from Bangladesh include Jute, unmanufactured Tobacco, Fasteners, Yarn of jute, Cotton waste, Tea and Hydrogen peroxide etc. There is a need to focus on exploring new avenues for enhancing trade so that the trade volume can be taken well beyond the current figure of around 692 million dollars.

He said that the potential areas where Pakistan and Bangladesh can enhance economic cooperation and trade are Information Technology Services, Iron and Steel Products, Surgical Instruments, Processed Food, Plastic Products, Automotive Parts, Edible Fruits, Sports Goods, Pharmaceutical Products and Chemicals.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that there are also tremendous opportunities for the investors in Bangladesh to invest in various sectors in Pakistan through Joint Ventures (JVs) including Tourism, Agriculture, Value Added Textiles, Construction Sector and Energy Sector especially Renewable Energy.

He requested to High Commissioner to apprise Bangladeshi business community about the investment opportunities available especially in the Special Economic Zones that are being developed under CPEC. This will prove to be a win-win situation for Bangladesh and Pakistan.

He said Pakistani wants to benefit from the experience of Bangladesh in improving access to finance for the SMEs. We are well aware of the fact that Bangladeshi model of microcredit produced excellent results. This success contributed a lot in winning Nobel Prize for Bangladeshi Economist - Dr. Muhammad Younus in 2006 who is known as ‘Father of Microcredit.’

He said that in order to establish productive economic relations, there is a need to address all the issues. For this purpose, efforts need to be employed to facilitate frequent interaction between the business sectors of the two countries. Business delegations composed of sector-specific participants or product-specific groups of entrepreneurs should be organized regularly by the leading chambers of commerce from both sides.

He mentioned that the art and cultural rituals of Bangladesh are also very impressive especially their Bengali Art, Music, Tradition Musical Instrument–Dhol, Drama, Paintings, Bengali Folk Dance and traditional Bengali Clothing etc. To sum up all, I would say that Bangladesh has its own standing in the globe due to wide spectrum of these distinctive features.

LCCI Vice President Haris Ateeq said that Pakistan-Bangladesh Business Council should be established as this measure can be important in boosting the two-way trade. He said that visa issuance problems to Pakistani businessmen should be resolved.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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