KARACHI: Leaders of the United Business Group (UBG), including S M Tanveer, Zubair Tufail, Zafar Bakhtawari, Khalid Tawab, Hanif Gohar, Syed Mazher A Nasir, Malik Khuda Bakhsh, Tariq Haleem, have urged all trade bodies across Pakistan to explore new avenues for promoting trade and economic relations with Islamic countries.

They emphasized the need for intensified interaction between Pakistani trade bodies, their counterparts, and Pakistan missions in Islamic countries.

The leaders noted that the relatively low level of trade between Pakistan and Islamic countries stems from a lack of information and limited interaction between the private sectors of Pakistan and Muslim nations.

While Pakistan has signed Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Malaysia and Preferential Trade Agreements (PTAs) with Indonesia and Iran, negotiations for FTA with Turkey and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council are ongoing.

Highlighting the vast resources and potential within Muslim countries, the leaders emphasized the importance of exploring and leveraging these assets to foster economic growth.

They suggested that promoting economic linkages with Muslim communities could facilitate greater capital flow within and beyond the Islamic world.

Furthermore, the leaders underscored the significance of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second-largest intergovernmental organization comprising 57 member states, as a collective voice representing the interests of the Muslim world.

They stressed Pakistan pivotal role in strengthening trade and economic ties among OIC member countries, despite the current disparity between political relations and trade volumes.

According to the leaders, Pakistan's current trade with OIC countries stands at USD 28 billion, with exports totaling USD 5.6 billion and imports amounting to USD 22.7 billion.

Main exports to OIC countries included cereals, cotton, mineral fuel, sugar, and textile products, while imports consist of petroleum products, animal fat, plastic, chemicals, iron, steel, machinery, and electrical equipment.

While acknowledging that trade direction is influenced by various factors such as cost, market access, connectivity, quality, standards, and competition, the leaders emphasized the potential for increased trade among OIC countries through collaborative efforts between the business community and policymakers. By identifying market opportunities and addressing trade barriers, they believed that more opportunities for trade within OIC countries can be created.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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