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KARACHI: All Pakistan Timber Traders Association (APTTA) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) to explore opportunities for promotion of wood trade between Pakistan and Malaysia.

The signing ceremony was held at a local hotel on Wednesday. Sharjeel Goplani Chairman APTTA and Muhtar Suhaili, CEO of MTC signed the MoU in the presence of Malaysian Minister for Plantation, Industries and Commodities Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The members of visiting Malaysian delegation, office-bearers of timber associations of both sides and wood traders were also present.

On this occasion, various issues related to timber trade were discussed. The issue of regular supply of timber and introduction of new species and to educate the importers on different applications of suitable species and quality of timber were discussed.

The participants also discussed the issue of subsidy in freight, joint venture in furniture manufacturing, ware housing of wood and wood products and long term outstanding matters of Free Trade Agreement in between Pakistan and Malaysia were also discussed.

On this occasion, Malaysia Minister said that the objective of their visit to Pakistan is to explore opportunities for promotion of trade including wood business between the two friendly countries.

She said there is huge potential to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysia. “We welcome Pakistani businessmen to set up furniture factories as joint venture with Malaysian partners,” she said.

Sharjeel Goplani Chairman APTTA said on this occasion that Pakistan has huge market for timber trade. “Unfortunately there is an issue of logistics in import, for which we wish that Pakistan Government and Malaysian Government jointly take up this matter and as result in any form of subsidy in freight”, he said.

“There is a vast opportunity to re-export the timber and timber products from Pakistan to its neighbouring countries, on which we need to work, especially Afghanistan and the Middle East and nearby countries, which are big markets for the timber and wood products business. We have to get the advantage of cheap labour in the timber trade in Pakistan and avail the re-export opportunities. We can import the raw wood from Malaysia and then re-export the finished product”, he said.

Currently, Pakistan is in need of advanced machinery and new technology to be used in the timber market, he said and suggested that Pakistan and Malaysia should make a technology centre in which both the countries will take benefits from each other’s experts.

He said the comprehensive Free Trade Agreements (FTA) for closer Economic Partnership between Malaysia and Pakistan was signed on 8-11-2007 at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The agreement is the 1st bilateral FTA between two Muslim Countries members of OIC.

“We want to highlight that for the last 10 years stakeholders are trying for the same concessionary rate of custom tariff that is zero- 0% customs duty on Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF) to be at par with Pakistan and Sri Lanka FTA which already in the field for the past 12 to 15 years”, he said.

For collaboration between both Pakistan and Malaysia, the Pakistan Timber Association will extend all its support to the Pakistan government and Malaysian Timber Council, he said.

He said new species should be introduced, in addition to Yellow Meranti and Red Meranti, and importers should be educated on the various applications of suitable species and quality of timber.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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