‘Muslim economies need to reduce trust deficit through frequent trade fairs’

September 29, 2020

KARACHI: Foreign and local dignitaries on Monday emphasised need of removing trust deficits in the Muslim economies through frequent trade fairs and meetings to strengthen their economic...

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KARACHI: Foreign and local dignitaries on Monday emphasised need of removing trust deficits in the Muslim economies through frequent trade fairs and meetings to strengthen their economic cooperation.

Sheikh Sultan, vice president of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said Muslim countries have enormous resources and potentials to succeed, but the task is to translate the potential into real asset.

“Absence of unity and cooperation among the OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) countries is a biggest challenge in the present uncertain political and economic situation,” Sultan said, addressing a webinar organised by the FPCCI.

OIC is the second largest bloc of the world and represents one-fourth of total land with 4.1 percent of the world population. Gross GDP of OIC is $6.5 trillion with average per capita income $ 7,189. Intra-regional trade is 17.5 percent of total trade of OIC countries while the intra-region foreign direct investment stands 2-3 percent of GDP.

“Pakistan has strong and significant relations with all Muslim nations at political level, but these relations do not reflect in terms of trade volume despite the fact that there is huge potential of trade,” said Sultan.

“The reason behind the low level of trade is lack of information sharing and low level of interaction among the private sectors of Pakistan and OIC countries.” Pakistan has signed free trade agreement only with Malaysia and preferential trade agreements with Indonesia, Mauritius and Iran.

Trade and Investment Attaché of Pakistan in Qatar Salman Ali said value-added food products, pharmaceutical, construction material and agro based product have huge export opportunities for Pakistan.

“FPCCI and TDAP (Trader Development Authority of Pakistan) should regularly participate in the exhibitions organised by Qatar for the enhancement of trade,” Ali said. Trade and Investment Attache of Pakistan in Jordan Khadim Ali said India and Europe are penetrating in Jordan and share of Pakistan in Jordan’s trade is less than one percent. “There are no marketing efforts and only one delegation of Pakistan visited Jordan last year,” he said.

Consul General of Pakistan in Turkey Bilal Pasha said there is no trade agreement among 57 countries of OIC, which is the main reason of low intra-regional trade. “Market access, connectivity, transportation, financial connectivity and B2B connectivity are challenges which Pakistan faces in trade with Muslim countries,” said Pasha. “Turkey is advance in science and technology and there is scope of collaboration for both countries in light engineering, chemical, agriculture, leather and textile.”

Trade and Investment Attaché of Pakistan in Indonesia Fauzia Perveen said there are huge non-tariff barriers in terms of import licence and quality requirements.

Pakistan and Indonesia operationalised preferential trade agreement in 2013, which is mainly benefiting Indonesia. Lack of shipping lines is another issue and almost 20-25 days are required for trade with Indonesia. Dates, meat and ethanol have potentials of exports towards Indonesia, Perveen said.

Commercial Secretary of Pakistan in Tajikistan Rashid Imtiaz said Tajikistan is gateway to Central Asia and Pakistan is mainly exporting sugar and importing cotton from Tajikistan. “Connectivity is the main issue due to uncertain situation in Afghanistan.”

Commercial Counselor of Pakistan in Oman Hanif Bashir said India and China are marketing their products in Oman, which is mainly an importing country. Bashir also advised regular business council meetings, trade fairs and exhibitions.

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