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KARACHI: Pakistan has very cordial relations with the Association of East Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries; however, its trade volume with them is far below than the existing potential.

These views were expressed by the speakers at an interactive session on “Pakistan-ASEAN Relations: Road to Growth & Prosperity”, organised by the Pakistan Council on Foreign Relations (PCFR) at a local hotel on Saturday.

The speakers said that ASEAN, with a population of 661 million people and combined GDP of $3.3 billion has become the fifth largest economic power in the world.

Former president Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Zubair Tufail said that ASEAN was established in 1967 and the member countries gradually removed trade barriers and now all the member countries are gradually growing.

He said that Pakistan must learn from the experience of ASEAN member countries to increase its trade. He was of the view that ASEAN has potential to become one of the leading economic powers in the world.

Dr June Kuncoro Hadiningrat, the Consul General of Indonesia in Karachi said that the ASEAN is one of the major trading partners of Pakistan. The total trade volume between ASEAN and Pakistan has increased to all time high level of $11 billion in 2022; however, the trade balance is in favour of ASEAN member countries. Pakistan’s exports to ASEAN member countries were $3.3 billion while imports were $8.8 billion.

He said ASEAN member countries want more cooperation to increase trade with Pakistan and other countries.

The Consul General of Malaysia in Karachi, Herman Hardynata Ahmed said ASEAN member countries are focusing on peace and regional security. He said ASEAN member countries trade relations with Pakistan are expected to grow further in future.

Narut Soontarodom, the Consul General of Thailand in Karachi said that ASEAN is one the biggest markets and there is huge potential to increase trade volumes between Pakistan and ASEAN member countries.

Dr Muhammad Imran Yosuf, Honorary Consul General of the Philippines said that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and the Philippines has increased to $200 million. The Philippines is the only country in ASEAN region where trade balance in favour of Pakistan.

Nguyen Thi Diep Ha, Head of Vietnam Trade Mission said there is huge potential to increase bilateral trade between Vietnam and Pakistan. She pointed out that Vietnam is now offering online visa facility for Pakistani citizens.

Ahsan Mukhtar Zubairi, Secretary General, Pakistan Council on Foreign Relations said that the session was organised to review the ASEAN member countries’ trade relations with Pakistan and to plan to increase this trade. Ambassador Hassan Habib later thanked the guests for joining this session.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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