Belgium trade mission to visit Pakistan for exploring new business avenues : Envoy
Ambassador of Belgium Frederic Verheyden said on Monday that his embassy was mulling over the prospects of a trade mission to visit Pakistan for exploring new business avenues.
He visited the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) along with Trade Commissioner Abid M. Husain and Trade and Commercial Officer, Embassy of Belgium Shaukat Nawaz Niazi. The Ambassador said that textiles products accounted for 75% of Pakistan's exports to Belgium and stressed that Pakistan should think beyond traditional products to improve trade with Belgium.
He said many Pakistani products, including pharmaceuticals, surgical equipment, leather and fruits, had the potential to find good market in Belgium and private sector of Pakistan should accelerate its efforts in that regard. Frederic Verheyden said that Belgium was cooperating with Pakistan in the energy sector, which was a major constraint for its economic growth. Pakistan, he stressed, should focus on controlling its transmission and distribution losses to improve energy situation.
He said with good moves of the government, Pakistan's outlook was changing towards positive, however, it had to create a promising environment by addressing energy, security and other issues to attract Belgium investors for joint ventures and invest- ment. He said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor was a game changer for Pakistan and it was also a big challenge for the country in terms of its capacity to absorb huge Chinese investment. He said that GSP+ was not a free lunch for Pakistan as it had to honor its commitments on international conventions. He assured his full cooperation to the chamber for strengthening the existing business relations between the two countries.
In his welcome address, ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that Belgium was the 5th largest trading partner of Pakistan within the European Union, but the bilateral trade of around $882 million was less than the available potential of the two countries. He said both the countries should fully cooperate withprivate sectors for taking volume of two-way trade up to the desired level of $ 2 billion.
He said Belgium should cooperate with Pakistan in improving value chain. Pakistan, he added, was an agricultural country and Belgium should help it in replacing its flood irrigation system to drip irrigation system to save water for future generations.
It was discussed that commercial representatives of Belgium Embassy should hold fortnightly or monthly meetings with the ICCI to explore new areas for improving trade relations between the two countries.
ICCI Senior Vice President Sheikh Pervez Ahmed and Vice President Sheikh Abdul Waheed also spoke on the occasion.