LAHORE: The Bangladesh High Commissioner to Pakistan Suhrab Hossain Monday called for early establishment of a direct shipping line to give fresh impetus to bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries.
The High Commissioner was talking to LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Vice President SAAR Chamber of Commerce Iftikhar Ali Malik, Honorary Consul General in Lahore Qazi Humayun Fareed, Executive Committee Members Mian Zahid Javaid, Nasir Saeed, Khamis Saeed Butt and Convener LCCI Standing Committee on SAARC Rehmatullah Javaid also spoke on the occasion.
The High Commissioner said that both the countries require strong commercial shipping links and a direct air link between Lahore and Dhaka to enhance bilateral trade. He said that Bangladesh needs a lot of raw material for its 5700 readymade garments factories and Pakistani businessmen should look into the area to avail the opportunity.
He also urged Pakistani businessmen to take part in International Expo held in Bangladesh every year to further strengthen their liaison with their Bangladeshi counterparts. He said that both the sides can initiate Joint Ventures in various sectors of the economy. Suhrab Hossain said that Pakistan and Bangladesh are two brotherly Islamic countries; therefore, maximum steps should be taken to strengthen our relations in all fields. This calls for intensive market research, single country exhibitions on reciprocal basis, frequent visits of trade delegations, exchange of socio-cultural programmes and close contact between trade bodies of the two countries.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that Pakistan and Bangladesh share a common religion, heritage, ethics and culture. He said that though trade between the two countries in growing progressively and crossed $1 billion mark but more concrete steps are needed to enhance the economic ties. He said Pakistan can export cement, sugar, engineering goods, agriculture and transport equipments, electrical and nonelectrical machinery and etc. He said that there is a need to develop close linkages among the major chambers of commerce from both sides. The regular interaction between private representatives can promote trade relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The LCCI President said that market research should be conducted regarding their range of products and priority should be given to each other for import of goods rather than buying from distant countries. He said that the frequent shipping arrangements between the two countries could ensure uninterrupted flow of goods between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
He said that Single country exhibitions and frequent exchange of trade delegations always play an important role for the promotion of trade. Farooq Iftikhar said that business community of the both countries could initiate joint ventures in the sectors of readymade garments, agro-based projects, light engineering, sugar, cement, fertilizers, chemicals, electronics, home appliances, cotton and jute textiles. He said that Pakistan and Bangladesh could also share experiences in the fields of Small and Medium Enterprises development.
He said that incentives offered to the foreign investors in Pakistan are not only unprecedented but also make it the right place for investment, in comparison with other countries of the region. Foreign investors seeking new avenues and markets are welcome to come forward and invest in Pakistan. These markets include Central Asian Republics and Gulf States.
He said that at a time when regional economic bloc has started making effect on international trade the world over through the formation of regional blocs like the EU, NAFTA, EFTA etc., Pakistan and Bangladesh should also strengthen their regional economic cooperation.
He said that SAARC and OIC have so far remained inactive due to absence of coordination among its members. He said SAARC nations are home to 21% of the world’s population but account for only 2% of the world GNP and share only 1.3% in the world’s total exports, 1% of global FDI inflows and 1% of global tourism receipts.