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Demand to sign FTA with Mauritius
Karachi: Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s President Muhammad Haroon Agar has urged to pave way forward to sign Free Trade Agreement FTA between Pakistan and Mauritius.
Exchanging views with the High Commissioner of Mauritius to Pakistan Mohammad Rashid Daureeawo, he stated that in 2007 Pakistan and Mauritius signed Preferential Trade Agreement PTA which allowed hundred tariff lines to be traded between two countries on preferential terms. The ultimate objective of this PTA is to pave the way for a FTA encompassing almost all products, trade and services.
He said that serious efforts are required from both the governments and business communities level to enhance bilateral trade and to double the trade volume between two friendly countries. Pakistan and Mauritius can join hands to have joint ventures in Mauritius Exclusive Economic Zone to extend their trade to various African countries and reciprocally Pakistan could help Mauritius to extend trade from Gwader port to Central Asian Republic, SAARC Block, Middle East and GCC countries. India is giving much attention to Mauritius and subsequently Pakistani investors too, should come forward and capture their market share in Mauritius. Mutual Economic and Commercial Cooperation opportunities exist in tourism, textile, sugar, healthcare, education and financial services.
Pakistan can export to Mauritius meat, fish fillets, fruits and vegetables, flowers, textiles, garments, sugar, sports and surgical goods, footwear, etc.
He apprised to High Commissioner about the vital role of KCCI in the socioeconomic development of Pakistan and to promote trade and industry in Karachi and elsewhere. KCCI can compose a high level business delegation to Mauritius, he proposed.
He also requested the Ambassador to invite exhibitors to participate in the Karachi Chamber’s My Karachi Oasis of Harmony Exhibition scheduled to be organized in July 2013.
High Commissioner Mohammad Rashid Daureeawo said that Mauritius, being a gateway to Africa, has huge scope for Pakistani furniture, textiles, tiles and sanitary ware, carpets and mangoes and these marvelous opportunities must be tapped. He asserted upon the need to sign MoU between KCCI and Mauritius Chamber of Commerce & Industry for enhanced mutual cooperation to facilitate business communities of two countries.
He said that Mauritius wants to further strengthen economic ties with Pakistan through the expansion of already signed Preferential Trade Agreement in various fields. Pakistan Mauritius trade and investment ties are presently low and simply call for aggressive measures. He said that Pakistani goods are best of the best in the world and has the potential to win respectable place in Mauritius market. It is very encouraging that Mauritius Pakistan Joint Working Groups is now envisaging negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement that hopefully would play very useful role.
To establish direct airlink between two countries talks are underway between Air Mauritius and PIA, he informed. If basic visa requirements are completed, Mauritius High Commission in Islamabad can issue visa in one day, he conversed. Pakistan exports to Mauritius comprise rice, cotton yarn, woven fabric, cotton fabric, bakery items and medicament mixtures while Pakistan imports from Mauritius sugar, food processing items, rubber and wood articles etc. He informed that Mauritius tops 2011 World Bank Report Ease of Doing Business Ranking due to soft and encouraging tax regime in the country whereby any foreign company can get registration in just three days.
He enlightened that legal framework for speedy resolution of trade related disputes arbitration and mediation is very strong in Mauritius that is also a big advantage to the foreign businessmen.
The High Commissioner also underscored the need for exchange of business delegations to jack up bilateral trade and dissemination of trade related information. He said since Mauritius is a gateway to African countries therefore offers huge opportunities to Pakistani businessmen desirous of winning those African markets.
Pakistani businessmen can export to any African market from Export Zones of Mauritius. He added that Mauritius is an attractive tourist destination therefore any investment of a joint venture would be a win win situation for both the countries. The country has a population of only 1.3 million but attracts around one million tourists annually due to peaceful and tolerant environment. He said Pakistani children while studying in Mauritius can get a degree from European University on economical fee structure.
Senior Vice President KCCI Shamim Firpo, Vice President Nasir Mehmood and Managing Committee Members also participated in the meeting who asked a number of questions regarding the level of business facilitation and taxation system in Mauritius.