Trade prospects with Malaysia
An understanding to work progressively towards balancing the trade gap and increasing import of better quality Pakistani products, especially rice and food products by Malaysia, was reached during a series of meetings held between Malaysian officials and the Pakistani delegation to Malaysia, headed by Tariq Iqbal Puri, Chairman, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan. The delegation explored ways to increase bilateral trade, forge business match-making and develop mutually beneficial partnerships.
Pakistan and Malaysia have agreed to increase bilateral trade and work together to narrow down the trade gap that is currently heavily tilted in favour of Malaysia. At present, Pakistan imports US $2 billion worth of palm oil from Malaysia to meet 95 percent of its domestic requirements.
The Pakistani delegation accompanied by Masood Khalid, Pakistan High Commissioner in Malaysia, held separate meetings with heads of various government and business organizations as well as senior government officials and ministers, including Datuk Seri Noh Bin Omar, Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Malaysia, and Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Minister for Plantation, Industries and Commodities. Various issues and proposals aimed at strengthening bilateral relations and increasing bilateral trade, especially in agriculture, construction, livestock and dairy, energy, education, IT and Halal industry, were discussed.
Tariq Iqbal Puri informed the Malaysian officials that Pakistan was the world’s third largest importer of palm oil and was importing nearly 2.2 million MT every year, of which 95 percent came from Malaysia. “Palm oil alone makes up nearly 79 percent of our US $2.55 billion imports from Malaysia which has swung the balance of trade massively in favour of Malaysia,” he said, adding that the gap should be narrowed down by importing from Pakistani products as rice and mangoes which were already popular all over the world for their better quality and competitive price. It was hoped that Pakistan could capture greater share in the Malaysian market if the country-specific quotas in respect of Pakistani products, especially rice, were enhanced.
Puri said that Pakistan produced the best quality rice; it was not only the 12th largest producer of rice but also the 4th largest exporter, yielding US $2.5 billion worth exports for the country last year. “Pakistan has fully liberalized the import and export of rice which should allow Malaysian importers greater ease to import more Pakistani rice to Malaysia to meet its domestic requirement of 1 million MT of rice,” he said.
The TDAP Chairman also urged the Malaysian government to consider importing processed Pakistani meat, especially beef and chicken, to meet its domestic requirements and those of its Armed Forces. He also advocated greater penetration of Pakistani mangoes in the Malaysian market, given the fact that the fruit was accorded preferential market access under the FTA between Pakistan and Malaysia and was also available in Pakistan in processed form, after installation of two mango-pulp plants for production of better-quality end-products.
The Malaysian officials agreed to promote bilateral trade and assured exploration of means for increasing import of Pakistani rice and other products. They said Malaysia had already signed an agreement with Vietnam to import 800,000 MT of rice annually but for the remaining 200,000 MT required to meet domestic demand, the country was prepared to look at the possibility of importing the commodity from Pakistan.
Tariq Iqbal Puri thanked the Malaysian government for its support to Pakistan and invited both the Agriculture and Plantation ministers to lead a delegation of businessmen and entrepreneurs to Pakistan to attend Expo Pakistan 2012 later this year.
Earlier, Puri held separate meetings with the Chairman of Malaysian Manufacturers Association (MFA) and Chairman of Halal Development Corporation (HDC). The Chairman of Malaysian Palm Oil Council also met the TDAP Chairman and hosted a dinner for the Pakistani delegation.