KARACHI: Ambassador of Norway Per Albert Ilsaas Tuesday said that although Norway and Pakistan have been enjoying excellent relations as both countries have been cooperating with each other in multiple spheres and it was positive that the trade volume was increasing but the numbers were not very impressive due to many reasons.
“One of the main priorities for my team and I at the Embassy will be to see how we can contribute to further deepening and strengthening trade relations and economic cooperation between our two countries,” Norwegian Envoy added while exchanging views at a meeting during at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
Norwegian Ambassador, who was on his maiden visit to Karachi, said that the purpose of his visit to Karachi Chamber was to discuss the possibilities of enhancing trade between the two countries and seek advise on how the Norwegian Embassy and KCCI can work together for further strengthening bilateral relations.
“Norway is fortunate enough to be home to a large and well-integrated Pakistani diaspora of 39,700 which was a sizeable number for Norway as its overall population was 5.3 million only and the Pakistani diaspora has been contributing well to Norwegian society and the economy”, he added.
He informed that Norway was a very rich country with huge natural resources particularly oil and gas resources while fish and salmon have been one of Norway’s main articles of export. “President KCCI Muhammad Idrees rightly pointed out immense opportunities in blue economy and Norway is a seafaring nation because the country has a large coastline.
I think these are the areas where there may be opportunities that are of mutual interest and benefits which can be identified and explored but Pakistan is not always perceived by Norwegians as the easiest place to do business,” he added.
He said that a Norwegian company Scatec in collaboration with Nizam Energy has undertaken a project of setting up a solar power plant of 150 megawatts in Sukkur and the financial closure for this project was achieved in February 2021. “The start of electricity generation by Scatec in Sindh would be a source of inspiration for other Norwegian companies.”
Muhammad Idrees said that Pakistan shares cordial ties with Norway where Pakistanis form one of the largest immigrant communities and the two countries have also signed a double taxation treaty while Norway also provides development assistance to Pakistan.
“Even though the two economies trade several items with each other but the trade ties need to be deepened. During 2021, Pakistan exported goods of worth $125.6 million to Norway while the imports from Norway were recorded at $65 million,” he said, adding that Pakistan’s top exports to Norway include textiles, apparel and accessories, articles of leather, sports equipment, edible fruits and nuts, cereals, cotton, footwear, carpets, beverages, medical or surgical goods etc.
He was of the opinion that there was much potential of trade enhancement between the two countries as Norway imports around $3 billion to $ 4 billion of textiles related items from around the globe. Pakistan has a good chance to enhance its exports’ share of textiles in Norwegian market as currently, Pakistan exports around $96 million worth of textile items to Norway.
Muhammad Idrees said Pakistan and Norway can look into the possibility of enhancing trade of numerous products including medicaments for therapeutic purposes, flour, Portland Cement, Fresh or chilled onions, potatoes, Frozen shrimps and prawns, Fresh or dried bananas, Vegetable fats and oils, flat-rolled products of iron or non-alloy steel, etc.
He also underscored the need to undertake joint ventures in Pakistan in the renewable energy while the two countries can also engage in cooperating in other areas of blue economy.
The coastal city of Karachi has the capacity to provide unlimited opportunities including for ports and harbors, marine transportation, fisheries, extraction of hydrocarbons, seabed minerals, value-added port logistics, shipbuilding, submarine cables, offshore installations, fish processing and coastal/eco-tourism. Businesses in both countries can hold dialogues in this regard to capitalize upon Pakistan coastline of around 1,000 km, he said, adding that business communities can also look into the possibility of undertaking joint ventures in ship building sector of Pakistan.
Senior Vice President Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Ziaul Arfeen, Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz, Second Secretary – Political, Norwegian Embassy Silje Marie, Program Advisor Development Norwegian Embassy M. Bilal Majeed and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present in the meeting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022