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June 26, 2019

UK envoy says enhanced export financing to help SMEs in Pakistan


June 26, 2019

KARACHI: Britain’s move to increase export financing for Pakistani export firms by 150 percent bears witness to UK government’s confidence on its trustworthy trade partner, a trade commissioner said on Tuesday.

“Usually this sort financing was used to facilitate British companies; however, this financing will be used for promoting export of Pakistan to the UK through various projects and infrastructure development loan programs,” Simon Penny, Regional Trade Commissioner for MEAP (Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan), said at a media briefing.

Penny, who was on his first visit to Pakistan, met with many key policymakers and business community leaders in a bid to boost trade between the two countries. Referring to the increase of the UK’s export financing to Pakistan to one billion pounds from 400 million pounds, he said this showed the level of British government’s commitment to Pakistan.

The UK trade commissioner said this financing would be available for long-term and small companies in Pakistan could benefit from this program. He added that any Pakistani company that intended to purchase from the UK would be able to avail this financing through UK Export Credit Agency. Penny said the purpose of his visit was to identify the way how both the trade partners work together so that trade volume could be enhanced.

The trade volume between the two counties was 3.1 billion pounds during 2017/2018 and trade balance was in favor of Pakistan. Pakistan exports 1.9 billion pounds worth of goods to the UK, while its imports from the Britain stand at $1.2 billion pounds.

Talking about Brexit, Penny said that EU had granted GSP + status to Pakistan allowing imports at concessional duty rates. “Pakistan will have same benefits post Brexit as the UK intends to replicate the GSP+ program for Pakistan,” he added.

He said around 25 British companies were operational in Pakistan and making good returns. “The companies are making around 9-10 percent profit, which is very good profit margin for offshore companies,” Penny added.

He further said Pakistan had the potential to grow its trade and the UK was engaged to project the true picture before the world. “There are immense opportunities in Pakistan, especially after improvement in ease of doing business,” the trade commissioner said.

He said 5000 UK firms were operational in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) but those companies had not realised the true potential of Pakistan. “We need to project Pakistan as a better place for investment as working environment has improved,” he added. The trade commissioner said the British Airways had resumed its Pakistan operation and more entrants from the UK would enter Pakistani market in the coming days.

Elin Burns, Deputy High Commissioner and Trade Director for Pakistan, was also present at the briefing. Burns said the resumption of British Airways operations to Pakistan would encourage more companies to invest in the South Asian country.

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