Belgium Has Lot To Offer, Envoy Tells LCCI

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Belgium has lot to offer, envoy tells LCCI

The Belgium ambassador says trade between the two countries is excellent but there is a vast scope for the expansion of mutual trade and economic ties.

LAHORE: (UrduPoint/Pakistan Point News-Oct 4th, 2022) Belgium is gateway to Europe and it has the largest perishable handling facility therefore, Pakistani businessmen should avail it to increase their reach-out to EU market.

These views were expressed by the Ambassador of Belgium Charles Delogne while speaking at a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Kashif Anwar presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood and Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt also spoke on the occasion. Executive Committee Members were also present in the meeting.

The envoy said that trade between the two countries is excellent but there is a vast scope for the expansion of mutual trade and economic ties. He said that Belgium has always supported Pakistan for GSP Plus Status. He said that the role of EU Parliament is important in this regard.

He said that both countries should identify more areas for cooperation and should also introduce more tradable items to enhance mutual trade volume. He said that there should be more interaction between the business communities of the two countries to enhance trade and economic cooperation.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that Belgium is a key player in the European Union and international economy. Belgium is one of the six founding countries of the European Union and home to many international organizations including NATO.

The LCCI President said that Pakistan and Belgium have very cordial diplomatic relations and both the countries have been steady trading partners as well. He said that as per trade data sought from State Bank, Pakistan’s exports to Belgium increased from 584 million Dollars in 2020-21 to 716 million dollars in 2021-22 while our imports surged from 419 million dollars to 549 million dollars in the same period. This essentially means that our trade volume increased from around 1 Billion dollars in 2020-21 to 1.26 billion dollars in 2021-22. He said that we need to make joint efforts to take the level of bilateral trade to at least 2 billion dollars.

Kashif Anwar said that the major items of Pakistan’s exports to Belgium are Textile products followed by Rice and Leather etc. Pakistan imports from Belgium include pharmaceutical products, articles of plastics, machinery, Iron & Steel etc.

He said that the Government of Pakistan is attempting to meet all the requirements of EU Program protocols, and Pakistan’s Mission in Brussels is pursuing the matter with the EU Secretariat. “We seek the support of Belgium - being an important member of EU for getting extension of GSP Plus till 2034”, the LCCI President added.

Kashif Anwar said that there are great prospects of increasing trade through diversification of products on the basis of GSP plus status awarded to Pakistan by the European Commission. The potential areas where both countries can increase trade are sports goods, surgical instruments, furniture and automotive parts.

He said that there are good prospects for undertaking joint venture projects in Pakistan with the help of Belgian experience and technical know-how in the fields of agro food processing, dairy, fertilizers and many more.

“During the last visit of the honorable Ambassador of Belgium to LCCI in December 2021, it was discussed that there is a great potential for Pakistani business community to establish warehouses in Belgium which can serve as a display centers for their products and help Pakistani businesses to penetrate in the European Market. We would certainly like to know more about the incentives being offered by the Belgian Government for establishing warehouses”, he added.

The LCCI Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood said that Belgium is an excellent transit point, through which Pakistan get access to entire European market. There is an excellent storage facility in Belgium for perishable goods and Pakistani exporters can penetrate into that market. He said that LCCI would like you to play a role in connecting the Pakistani exporters of perishable goods with their counterparts in Belgium. Pakistan also value the increasing academic cooperation between two countries as a growing number of Pakistani students are studying in Belgian Universities.

LCCI Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt paid special tribute to European Union for providing 3.5 million Euros to assist floods victims in Pakistan while Belgian First Aid and Support Team commonly known as B-FAST donated hundreds of tents to relieve the homeless flood affectees.

He appraised the house that in March 2022, LCCI collaborated with Embassy of Belgium for organizing the Belgian Companies’ Catalogues Exhibition in connection with Belgian Business Contact Day in which the catalogues of more than 100 Belgian Companies representing key areas of economy were displayed. We would certainly like to collaborate for more such initiatives including regular exchange of trade delegations to enhance the existing trade and investment relations between Pakistan and Belgium.

Meanwhile, in a separate meeting with the LCCI office-bearers, Pakistan Ambassador to Syria Air Marshal (R) Shahid Akhtar said that the efforts are afoot to arrange a ministerial conference. He said that the civil war in Syria is almost over. Now it is in the reconstruction phase and Pakistani private sector should avail benefit from this opportunity. He said that China, Indian, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka are very active in Syria. There is a wide scope for Pakistani pharmaceutical, live-saving drugs and surgical instruments etc. He said that Pakistan’s trade with Syria can be increased three to four times.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that Syria and Pakistan have close and diplomatic relations. Pakistan has been supporting Syria during difficult times to maintain peace being the major part of UN Peacekeeping Missions.

He said that despite these unsafe economic conditions in Syria, there are still imports and exports being done between Pakistan and Syria. Pakistan’s imports from Syria are almost negligible averaging even below than four hundred thousand dollars. He said that in 2020-21, Pakistan’s exports to Syria were around 21.7 million dollars which have come down to as low as 5.7 million Dollar in 2021-22. Pakistan’s exports to Syria are dominated primarily by Textiles.

He said that the total global imports of Syria are in excess of 17 billion dollars. The pharmaceuticals imports of Syria are 123 million dollars while the imports of edible fruits are worth 144 million dollars and imports of vegetables & dairy are in excess of 100 million dollars. Pakistan can certainly enhance its exports to Syria in these product lines.

Kashif Anwar said that right now, the Temporarily Displaced Persons in whole Syria require food items, clothing and other daily routine items which are being arranged by the UNO and other NGOs. Pakistan has the capacity to supply these things to Syria.

Abdullah Hussain

Abdullah Hussain is a staff member who writes on politics, human rights, social issues and climate change.