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KARACHI: A meeting of Pak-Malaysia Business Council of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) was held on December 22, at Federation House, Karachi, with High Commissioner of Pakistan in Malaysia Amna Baloch.

Mian Nasser Hyatt Maggo, President, FPCCI, M Hanif Lakhany, Vice President, FPCCI and Amjad Rafi, former president of KCCI, and directors and members of the Council and other dignitaries also attended the meeting.

Shafqat Ali Khan Niazi, Trade Counsellor, High Commission of Pakistan in Malaysia attended on Zoom.

Mian Nasser Hyyat Maggo, FPCCI President, welcomed High Commissioner of Pakistan in Malaysia Amna Baloch, and all the participants. He expressed that due to Covid–19 pandemic, the trade volume between Pakistan and Malaysia had suffered badly during last two years and the export from Pakistan to Malaysia is around $260 million as compared to the imports of $1.13 billion last year.

Malaysia is mainly exporting refined palm oil to Pakistan, while there is export duty on crude palm oil. There is scope for export of value-added products including surgical and sport goods. There is absence of direct flight to Malaysia, so the export has become costly. There is need to promote Malaysian Joint Venture particularly for tourism development in Pakistan. There should be regular meetings with Malaysian Chambers and liaison with trade bodies between Malaysia and Pakistan. In this connection, he congratulated Bashir Janmohammed, Chairman, Pak-Malaysia Business Council (PMBC) for his vital role and appreciated his efforts in promoting bilateral trade and investment between Pakistan and Malaysia.

M Bashir Janmohammed, Chairman, PMBC in his key note address warmly welcomed High Commissioner of Pakistan Amna Baloch, and the vibrant role played by her and services rendered to the business community and appreciated highly commendable co-operation extended by the High Commission.

Bashir Janmohammed pointed out that Pakistan is continuously facing trade deficit with Malaysia. Trade imbalance had touched about $1bn in the years 2016 to 2018. Exports from Pakistan have been stagnant at around $160 million per annum but it increased by $100 million to $260 million in the year 2019-20. Therefore, there is need to address trade imbalance by diversifying trading products and taking other steps to enhance Pakistan’s exports to Malaysia.

However, he informed that rice export to Malaysia from Pakistan, which was very limited has since increased and Malaysian importing Agency BERNAS has increased the import of Pakistani rice by over two lac tons this year, as a result of the efforts made by Pakistan High Commission and the sellers.

Bashir Janmohammed further pointed out that there are certain areas/issues regarding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Malaysia besides some anomalies, which are also needed to be resolved/removed through negotiations at the level of both the governments, so as to further boost bilateral trade and economic ties for getting full advantage of FTA, which is still far from its potential. There was need to review FTA in the forthcoming JRC meeting where products like mangoes and other fruits can be included in FTA. He proposed that whenever the next JRC meeting takes place, Pak-Malaysia Business Council should be taken in confidence to suggest proposals from Pakistan side.

Bashir Janmohammed stressed on the need to address the trade imbalance issue, through increase in the volume of exports of Pakistani non-basmati and basmati rice, Halal Foods products and frozen seafood to Malaysia & fresh fruits and vegetable etc., after removing certain issues and constraints in this regard, in view of the sizeable demand and the fact that Malaysia imports such products from neighbouring countries.

There is also need to promote export of good quality sports goods (particularly hockey sticks & footballs) and surgical goods manufactured in Pakistan at international quality standard at attractive price.

Bashir Janmohammed pointed out that unless Crude Palm Oil is available from Malaysia without levy of export duty its import in Pakistan would not viable. Malaysian Government may therefore withdraw export duty on crude palm oil. Edible oil refineries in Pakistan are closed due to this factor.

It may not be practicable to balance the trade between Malaysia and Pakistan, because of Pakistan’s huge import of palm oil, which is food item. However, we have to concentrate on Joint Ventures with Malaysia. Presently, there are a few Joint Ventures, including edible oil refinery, bulking installation, infrastructure/jetty, car manufacturing and others.

But, we need to concentrate on following areas for entering into Joint Ventures:-

i) Concentrated Fruit Juice Industry. Pakistan is rich in seasonal fruits best in the world, like mangoes, mandarin, apple, banana, straw berry etc. It would be appropriate that joint ventures are established in the area where these fruits are grown, i.e. in Sindh for mangoes and KPK province for other fruits. High Commission may work to identify the companies in Malaysia, which may be interested in this regard.

ii) Pakistan is promoting a lot of tourism. New spots are opened at KPK besides infrastructure and resorts are being developed in Northern areas of KPK, Gilgit, Skardu and Baltistan etc. There are still not good hotels and transport facilities in the area. Joint Venture for promotion of tourism should be encouraged in these areas, as Malaysians are well experienced in this field in Lankawi and Penang etc. Private Tour Operators should explore Pakistan Government’s incentives for this purpose and go to Malaysia as soon as possible.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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