TEXT: Yutaka Arima, Director General Southwest Asian Affairs Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Japan called on Kalim Farooqui, Chairman Pakistan Japan Business Forum (PJBF) during his brief stay in Karachi enroute to Islamabad. His delegation included Tsutsumi Taro, Director, Keiko Ikemoto, Assistant Director and Yasushi Nakagawa Acting Consul General, Consulate General of Japan in Karachi.
During the meeting with him, Kalim Farooqui was assisted by Tetsuya Suematsu, Senior Vice Chairman PJBF, Kazunori Yamaguchi, Country Director, Japan External Trade Organization, Kazuteru Mihara, COO Japanese Association of Commerce & Industry (JACI), Syed Feroz Alam Shah, Director PJBF and Advisor to the Board of Investment (BOI) and the Ministry of Information Technology (MOIT) and Murtaza Mandviwalla, Director and Secretary General of PJBF. In his opening remarks, Kalim Farooqui welcomed the delegation for meeting PJBF and choosing to stop over in Karachi, the economic and business hub of Pakistan.
In the meeting with the DG MOFA, Farooqui elaborated upon the business cooperation between the Japanese and Pakistani companies and cited the recently concluded Joint Business & Government Dialogue in Islamabad in which over 70 Japanese and equal number of Pakistani businessmen converged. He mentioned that over 80 Japanese companies are operating in Pakistan which is greatly contributing to the employment and GDP. However, with respect to trade, the balance is heavily in favour of Japan and that both governments should look into ways to somehow create a reasonable balance even if Japan has to consider special trade concessions. Feroz Shah explained about the potential that exists with respect to information technology and mentioned about the developments between Pakistan and Japan in this sector. He also elaborated upon the undertaking by the government of Pakistan to create Technology Parks across the country and the substantial investments being made in the sector. Two Japanese companies in the IT sector have already opened their offices and are actively pursuing business. Murtaza Mandviwalla stressed upon the need for further investments by the Japanese auto manufacturing companies to catch up with the changing local demands and which can eventually help in exporting their units from Pakistan. International quality auto parts are being manufactured in Pakistan and which is an added advantage. Pakistan with its population base of over 220 million and with talented youth estimated at 60% below the age of 30, can immensely contribute for the mutual benefit towards business between Pakistan and Japan. Nontraditional exports such as in IT, sportswear, surgical instruments seafood products, agriculture produce, and the like can greatly contribute to bridging the trade gap. Also mentioned was the contribution of Japan towards development projects in Pakistan earlier through organizations such as OECF and JBIC. However, it was pointed that the level of such assistance which Pakistan was receiving in the 70's and 80's both as outright grants and state credits has been considerably reduced and was requested to be considered afresh through Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), having an office in Pakistan and the agency now responsible. The Japanese Directors of PJBF, Suematsu, Yamaguchi and Mihara presented papers and explained about the impediments with respect to trade and investments between the two countries and on how best it can be resolved if given due consideration.
Arima giving a patient hearing to all that was conveyed and requested by PJBF appreciated the contribution being made by PJBF. His visit coinciding with the 70 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Japan (1952-2022) is to convey to the government of Pakistan that Japan values its long relations with Pakistan and that while in Islamabad he wishes to meet relevant officials to assess how Japan can help in further strengthening it in the days ahead. He was appreciative of the fact that PJBF is very active and has relevant membership and was pleased to meet the officials which included two Pakistani members, Syed Feroz Shah and Kalim Farooqui who have been honoured by the government of Japan with “The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon". Later, each PJBF member presented souvenirs to the visiting delegation. While Chairman Kalim Farooqui presented a book Jinnah Anthology compiled with articles and photographs on the founder and the father of the nation by his own grand-nephew Liaquat Merchant, Senior Vice Chairman Tetsuya Suematsu presented the guest of honour with a Coffee Table Book on 20 years of PJBF for him to review its performance of the last two decades.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023
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