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KARACHI: Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President FPCCI, has expressed his satisfaction over a high-profile, bilaterally well-attended and extensive session of Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Business Council aimed at enhancing trade volume and exploring avenues for joint ventures.

The all-encompassing session was organized on Business-to-Business (B2B) format in the presence of trade officials and tangible ventures worth millions were discussed, he added.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh apprised that business, industrial and trade communities of the two sides have never been that confident before on the potential areas of cooperation as the bilateral diplomatic, defence, economic and trade ties are at an all-time high.

He emphasized that the negotiations to sign Pak-GCC FTA are at an advanced stage and Pakistan should greatly benefit from the perks that will come with it.

He added that Pakistan should target IT & IT-enabled services exports to Saudi Arabia; along with skilled workforce in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT).

Highlighting other areas, FPCCI Chief said that value-added textiles, leather products, footwear, handicrafts, sports goods, pharmaceuticals, surgical goods, gems & jewelry, rice, fruits & vegetables and construction materials can fetch major additional orders from Saudi Arabia worth billions of dollars annually; and, that is the only sustainable way to curtail Pakistan’s trade deficit; which is expected to be close to $48 billion, when the final figures come out for the fiscal year 2021–22.

Qasim Naveed Qamar, Special Advisor to Chief Minister (SACM), Sindh for Investment & Public-Private Partnership, maintained that the Government of Sindh will encourage the efforts of FPCCI in all ways possible to enable the apex body promote industrialization; generate employment and accelerate economic activities in the province.

Fahad Bin Muhammad Al-Bash, Chairman of Saudi-Pak Business Council, invited the practical proposal from Pakistani business community for swift and tangible development on the projects of mutual interest. He added that Pakistani rice, spices, fruits and cuisine are very popular in Saudi Arabia and Pakistani exporters should come forward for a bigger market share.

Junaid Makda, Chairman of FPCCI’s Pak-Saudi Arabia Joint Business Council, said the COVID-19 caused a major bottleneck in people-to-people, business-to-business and chamber-to-chamber contacts; which has been removed now and the two sides have agreed on regular contacts and single-country trade fairs & exhibitions.

He also requested Saudi authorities to facilitate Pakistani businessmen with the swift visa processing and simpler documentation requirements for exports to the kingdom.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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