Pakistan Times | 7 Dcember 2009
Belgium urged to support efforts for Pak-EU FTA
Pakistan Times Business & Commerce Desk
KARACHI: Belgium, being the Capital of Europe and centre of European politics and policy making, should support the efforts for signing free trade agreement between Pakistan and European Union, emphasized President KCCI Abdul Majid Haji Muhammad here on Saturday.
Ambassador of Bellgium, Hans-Christian KINT responding to KCCI President said that in the first quarter of next year an important of Eurpean Union states is scheduled at Brussels for discussing market access of EU to Pakistan. GSP plus status may likely be given to Pakistan for market access, he said.
While speaking at Belgian Companies Catalogue Exhibition jointly organized by Belgian Embassy and Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Chamber, President KCCI Abdul Majid Haji Muhammad referred to the meetings of the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan at Brussels with the Belgian Prime Minister and leading political personalities wherein an understanding was reached that Belgium will extend its entire support to Pakistan for entering FTA with the European Union.
Ambassador of Belgium Hans-Christian Kint was invited as the Chief Guest.KCCI Presidesnt expressed compliments, solidarity and high regards to people of Belgium and aspired for better relationship between the Governments, people and business community of both the countries.
He said Kingdom of Belgium is the sixth largest European importer of Pakistani goods, and the bilateral trade between the two countries is around dollars 600 million. A number of Belgian companies are operating in Pakistan and contributing towards the development of Pakistan economy.
He urged the Ambassador to invite more Belgian Companies to invest in Pakistan, especially in the energy sector and textiles.He discussed the trade potential and said that Pakistan’s exports to Belgium consists of textile made-ups, accessories of apparel, clothing, cotton yarn and fabrics, articles of leather, sports goods, plastics and articles thereof, cane molasses whereas Pakistan’s imports from Belgium consist of pharmaceutical products, iron and steel, boilers, machinery, chemical products etc.
KCCI President extended an invitation to Belgian Companies to participate in the forthcoming International My-Karachi: Oasis of Harmony exhibition-2010 for enhancing bilateral trade relations he suggested to identify potential products/ brands, sharing of bilateral trade development, regular exchange of trade delegations, signing of memorandum of Understanding between leading Chambers of both countries and participation of businessmen from both countries in trade fairs and exhibitions.
He offered that KCCI can circulate important data with its registered 16000 members through its monthly - Economic Horizon - and update information on its website.
Ambassador of Belgium, Hans-Christian Kent, reciprocated the compliments.
Commenting on the perception of Pakistan, he informed that Belgian Press reporting does not reflect any negative perception about Pakistan. He said that Travel Advisory to Pakistan depends upon the prevailing law and order situation. Ambassador also ensured fair and transparent issuance of business visas.
Trade Commissioner of Belgium, Abid Hussain gave presentation on bilateral trade prospects and informed about the purpose of the visit.He was quite receptive to the idea that a select group of business and industry representatives such as in the field of confectionary would be an ideal gathering of industrialists to explore the possibility of forming an informative visiting delegation that may be taken to the higher level of a visit to the Belgian counterparts to upgrade their expertise and introduce them to the latest production technology and techniques.
Such inter exchange would be a mutually beneficial event for both the countries and form the basis of a long lasting business relationship in various fields of mutual cooperation.
It was also highlighted by the visiting Belgian delegates that in the near future the requirements of visa may include a centralised finger printing facility in Islamabad that will comply with the international requirement of the EU. No target date has been settled in this regard but it is definitely on the cards.
The KCCI requested that for facilitating the business community members here, the same facility should also be operative in Karachi as this will save the valuable time of the businessmen from travelling to Islamabad every time for such an event.
A unique event that was organised in this exhibition was the exclusive display of Belgian stamps of the last fifty years that were extended through the courtesy of M. Arif Balgamwala, former MC member. The Ambassador of Belgium admired the display and expressed his personal interest in this unique event.
Managing Committee Members of KCCI, Nadeem Zafar, Dr. Qazi Ahmed Kamal, Qamar Usman, Ateeq ur Rehman, Anis Bhesania, Asif Begawala, Khurram Saigal, Muhammad Ali, Zahid Masud Jan, Liaquat Ali Shah and others attended the occasion.