Pakistan fails to tap trade opportunities in Iraq | Pakistan Today

Pakistan fails to tap trade opportunities in Iraq

Though law and order situation in the post-Saddam Iraq has improved and development works are going on in the Middle Eastern country, Pakistan has failed to tap the huge opportunity of trade in the foreign country.
Despite having good relations with the war ravaged country during Saddam era, Pakistan is lagging behind the groups of countries who have started to capture the markets, developing under ‘Re-building of Iraq’, sources told Pakistan Today. Though the Ambassador of the Republic of Iraq to Pakistan, Dr. Rushdi Al-Ani during his meeting with women exporters in Islamabad offered oil supply on preferential rates while expressing Baghdad’s interest to import technology, edibles, and medicines, the concerned authorities in Islamabad are yet to revive trade relations with Baghdad. The ambassador has further informed that his country was willing to have imports of various products from Pakistan as Baghdad imports over 40 million tonnes of cement, wheat, rice, sugar and other items from many countries. But, despite enjoying good stock and better quality of products like cement, rice, wheat, pharmaceutical products, fruits and sugar, Islamabad was yet to tap the huge markets in the oil rich country of Middle East. The country’s current indirect export of products to Iraq includes engineering products, chemicals, sports goods, rice, textiles & surgical instruments, that are mostly exported via Amman, Turkey and Kuwait. Interestingly, India was exporting wheat and cement to the war stricken country despite security concerns, sources said.
Pakistan and Iraq which enjoyed better trade relations during the Saddam regime, also conducted a Pak-Iraq Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) every year, but its 9th session was yet to be held since the last session of JMC was held in 2001. While Iraq was speedily developing its infrastructure and institutions, devastated by the US war, it was pursuing a strategy to gain foreign participation in joint ventures with State-owned enterprises. But other countries, particularly Turkey was benefiting the most as it strong initiative to pump its products in the war stricken country. Although, sources claimed, that Iraq was headed on a path of stability, Pakistan was yet to have its functional embassy in Baghdad to enhance bilateral trade relations. An honorary counsel general has, however been appointed by the country in Baghdad, but the trade relations between the two countries were still being coordinated by Pakistani embassy in Iran.
Pakistan could also participate in constructing oil refineries of Baghdad, which have been affected badly after the US war against the Saddam regime. Pakistan could also convince the foreign country to hire its expertise of shipyard activation, which Baghdad needs for improving its sea trade. They said, despite the high potential market, Pakistani share of export to Iraq was only over $24 million out of Baghdad’s total imports of $43.5 billion in 2008. However, sources in Trade Development Authority (TDAP) said that authorities were attending different exhibitions in the adjoining countries of Kuwait, Jordan, and Bahrain, for an indirect promotion of Pakistani commodities in Iraq. Identifying the available and emerging market opportunities in Iraq, exporters suggested that a number of steps could be taken including the regular meeting of JMC, restoration of Pak-Iraq Business Counsel and visits of trade delegations from both countries. Besides trade related matters there were also visa issues with the foreign country. Though Pakistan has opened an office of the Counsel General in Baghdad, but the major affairs were being looked by the country’s ambassador in Tehran, sources said.

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