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LAHORE: Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Chairman of FPCCI’s Management Committee, has explained the bottlenecks in the realization of the true trade potential that quantifiably exists between Pakistan & Maldives; which currently stands at a meagre $9mn. Absence of direct flights, lack of B2B contacts, insufficient governmental facilitation and not targeting the right sectors are the top most reasons that Pakistani traders have not yet been able to tap the true potential that exists in the Maldivian market, he added.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that there is a substantive demand for halal Pakistani food exports to Maldives; namely, fresh fruits & vegetables; halal meat; processed & semi-processed foods; dry fruits; various varieties of rice and organic snacks. He added that as far as the food products are concerned, Pakistan can beat the competition on all fronts in the Maldivian market; be it prices, quality or taste.

H E Ms Farzana Zahir, High Commissioner of Maldives to Pakistan, said that Maldives is looking to diversify the sources of construction materials imports, including cement & steel; coupled with the increasing demand for the halal food products. She also invited Pakistani entrepreneurs, hoteliers and real estate developers to invest in Maldivian Tourism Industry. Maldives enjoys 74% occupancy in the tourism and hospitality industries; and, that guarantees a great return on the investments in the industry, she added.

Imran Khalil Naseer, a prominent business leader from Pakistan, pointed out that Pakistan can actually learn a lot from Maldives’ tourism industry and their infrastructure – as Pakistan has many underutilized and under-marketed tourism hotspots like religious, natural and historical destinations. Usama Qureshi, an energy & FMCG expert, expressed his profound interest in the open-door policy of Maldives to welcome unsolicited project proposals in the renewable & green energy sectors.

During the meeting Irfan Iqbal Sheikh proposed that a revised, updated and expanded MoU should be signed between FPCCI & Maldives National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MNCCI) to forge B2B alliances; which will eventually translate into a more vibrant G2G economic cooperation. He also proposed the formation of an effective & functional Joint Business Council (JBC) between the two brotherly counties.

FPCCI Chief called for the launch of direct flights between Pakistan & Maldives to make it possible for the business communities on both the sides to embark on the much needed business & economic tourism – else, all efforts may not produce the desired results, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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