Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara has said that Pakistan and European Union have the potentials in various sectors besides textile. “Pakistan needs to produce products which are competitive in EU Market.”
She was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Irfan Iqbal presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar also spoke on the occasion. LCCI Executive Committee Members Haji Asif Sehar and Yasir Khursheed were present on the occasion.
The Ambassador said “we are ready to help Pakistan to expand its exports to European Union and would like to be its partner in this regard.”
She said that European Union and Pakistan have signed the Strategic Engagement Plan in June of this year to further boost their relations in diverse fields. She said that increase in Pakistan’s exports is because of duty free access to Pakistani products under GSP Plus. She said that GSP Plus reviews annually on performance therefore Pakistan should ensure implementation of all conventions under this status.
The Ambassador said that Ease of Doing Business is a biggest challenge for Pakistan. Its indicators must be improved to encourage foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.
Androulla Kaminara pledged that the EU will continue engaging with partners, including Pakistan, to address the common challenge of climate change through a multilateral approach.
She said that know-how about trade and investment opportunities is essential and exchange of sector specific trade delegation can play a vital role in this regard. She said that EU is focusing on digitalization, climate change and immigration in particular. She said that special focus to the vocational training will ensure provision of skilled human resources to the industry of Pakistan.
LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan and European Union have strong trade relations. European Union is the Pakistan’s most important trading partner and accounts for about 18% of Pakistan’s total trade volume and around 33% of Pakistan’s total exports. It is encouraging to see that overall trade figures are following upward trends.
He said that from 2016 to 2018, the volume of trade went up from 11.7 billion dollars to 13.46 billion dollars. Pakistan’s exports to the European Union showed good improvement and increased from 6.9 billion dollar to 8 billion dollars during this period. The imports from European Union also followed the same trend and reached 5.5 billion dollars in 2018 as compared to 4.8 billion dollars in 2016.
Pakistan’s exports to EU are heavily dominated by Textiles which account for more than 75% of Pakistan’s exports to EU. There is a need for greater product diversity in Pakistan’s exports to EU. There potential areas where Pakistan can enhance its exports to EU are Leather Products, Furniture, Carpets, Plastics, Sports Goods and Rice etc.
The LCCI President said that it is a steady feature of Pakistan’s trade with European Union that almost 71% of total exports sent to EU are with five countries namely UK, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. We look forward to finding more and more opportunities of market penetration in other countries like Greece, Slovenia and Ireland etc., where Pakistan’s export are relatively much low.
LCCI Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar said that LCCI has declared ongoing year as the year of exports. He said that Lahore is second largest economic hub of the country and its contribution in GDP is impressive. He said that European Union must encourage joint ventures and support Pakistan for increase in exports.
He said that sector-specific delegations should be encouraged. Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry would encourage export-oriented trade delegations and guidance of European Union would help Pakistan to meet its targets.
He said that LCCI wants to establish testing laboratory of international standards in collaboration with the government.