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Thailand puts weight behind fresh push to PTA with Pakistan

By Our Correspondent
January 20, 2022

KARACHI: While offering Thai government's full support, Vietnamese ambassador on Wednesday reiterated it was high time for giving a fresh push toward finalisation of the long-overdue Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which continues to lie in limbo to date.

“Talks were also going on for having Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries but we need to have PTA first,” said Ambassador Vietnam Nguyen Tien Phong, speaking to businessmen at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s office.

“Of course, relevant meetings of joint trade committee and joint ministerial committee were held but then some of them were postponed due to COVID-19 which doesn’t mean we delay the process.”

First Secretary Vietnam’s Embassy Thai Duc Khai, Head of Vietnam Trade Office Ms. Nguyen Thi Diep Ha, President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, Senior Vice President Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain, Chairman of KCCI’s Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Sub Committee Zia ul Arfeen, Former President Majyd Aziz, and KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.

While highlighting the trade and investment potential, Vietnamese envoy stated that Pakistan and Vietnam were amazing countries with all four seasons, huge population, sufficient natural resources and young labour force along with immense opportunities available in many sectors including travel and tourism must be promoted.

“We have the potential and we have the framework but we need to explore how trade and investment could be enhanced which have remained stagnant. Instead of just talking about potential, we need to be practical.”

Phong said the business associations of the two countries must come forward, identify problems, raise awareness and take practical steps for boosting trade and investment ties.

“This is year, we will be celebrating 50 years of Pakistan-Vietnam diplomatic ties and we have big plans for that but in addition to celebrations, we have to be more effective and substantive partners to further promote and strengthen the existing trade and investment ties between the two countries,” he informed.

He said Vietnam had implemented an open-door policy as the country’s economy was liberalised and integrated into global economy, which yielded good results.

Despite Covid-19 pandemic, Vietnam recorded a growth of 2.9 percent and its total exports-imports in 2020-21 stood at $668 billion, of which exports stood at $336.5 billion while goods worth $332.5 billion were imported, indicating a surplus of $4 billion.

“We have signed FTAs with 17 countries including EU, Japan, US, China, ASEAN and have trade relations with 145 countries and territories.”

Commenting on $794 million trade volume between Pakistan and Vietnam, he said that this trade volume was largely in favour of Vietnam hence, the business community of Karachi must find ways to make it balanced.

“We are ready to facilitate any MoU (memorandum of understanding) between KCCI and any other CCI in Vietnam which should not remain confined to just signing but has to be effectively implemented.”

Earlier, President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, noted Vietnam’s economy recorded a growth of 2.9 percent in 2020, that too in the face of pandemic, which according to IMF (International Monetary Fund) was one of the highest growth rates in the world in that year.

Idrees mentioned mutual trade volume was currently below the true potential as during 2020, Pakistan exported goods worth $136.67 million to and imported items valuing $437.95 million from Vietnam, which needed to be improved through collective efforts as there was a lot of untapped potential in number of commodities including synthetic organic dyes, casing and tubing of iron or steel, Polystyrene, cuttle fish and squid, woven fabrics of cotton, medicaments containing hormones or steroids, leather and octopus etc.

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