A 48-member strong delegation of Malaysian entrepreneurs and businessmen is set to attend the 7th edition of Expo Pakistan to be held in Karachi on 4-7 October 2012.
“The participation of such a large delegation from Malaysia which had the largest foreign representation in Expo Pakistan last year as well, is a clear manifestation of the trust and confidence the Malaysian business community has in the Pakistani market and I am sure the visit would pave way for more business matchmakings and economic collaborations,” said Mr. Mohammad Nadeem Khan, Acting High Commissioner for Pakistan to Malaysia, while addressing a pre-visit briefing arranged by the Commercial Section of the Mission for the Malaysian delegates here in Kuala Lumpur.
Nadeem told the Malaysian delegates that the Expo Pakistan 2012, held every year at Karachi Expo Center, was “the premier trade fair in Pakistan, which showcases Pakistan’s trade and manufacturing potential”. The event which started in 2005 has now transformed into a mega event and offers an opportunity for the businessmen across the world to meet each other and avail best opportunities, he said.
He disclosed that interfacing of businessmen participating in last year’s event had resulted in concluding business deals worth US$518 million as compared to US$80 million in the preceding year. As a result of the Expo Pakistan last year, 70 MOUs were signed between counterparts associations & chambers while over 600 buyers from 52 countries participated in the event which also drew in excess of 11,000 business visitors to 300 stalls spread over 5 halls.
Dilating upon the bilateral trade ties between Pakistan and Malaysia, Mr. Nadeem Khan said both Pakistan and Malaysia had signed a Free Trade Agreement which had been operational since January 2008. The FTA was Pakistan’s first comprehensive agreement encompassing trade in goods, services, investment and economic cooperation. “This Agreement is a timely initiative by both the governments to deepen existing economic and trade relations between them … it provides market access to a number of items originating in both countries and allows the private sector to explore long-term and sustainable trade and investment opportunities,” he said.
He pointed out that since the implementation of FTA, bilateral trade had witnessed a steady increase. In 2008, our bilateral trade was US$ 1.8 billion, which has now increased to US$ 2.8 billion. “Pakistan’s exports to Malaysia jumped from US$ 125 million to US $ 257 million, whereas imports increased from US$ 1.7 billion to US$ 2.5 billion,” he said, adding “the increase in bilateral trade may be a source of satisfaction but we believe it is still much below the potential of both countries and more needs to be done to take it to the desired level”.
The Acting HC also touched on Pakistan’s trade deficit with Malaysia which had also increased after the implementation of the FTA. “At the time of the signing of the Agreement, our deficit was US $ 1.6 billion, which has now jumped to almost US $2.5 billion,” he said, adding “the main reason for this growing deficit is the increased imports of palm products, for which we have provided enhanced market access to Malaysia”.
He said Pakistan was the world’s second largest importer of palm oil after China. “However, there is a need to restore the balance of trade by offering Malaysian Government to import more rice and beef from Pakistan … their annual imports have been growing over the years placing Pakistan in a position to bridge the gap between their supply and demand,” he added.
Nadeem Khan urged the Malaysian businessmen to use the occasion of Expo to explore Pakistan and see for themselves the opportunities for trade and investment in Pakistan. “I may go on extolling the virtues of trading with Pakistan, but you won’t be convinced unless you see the things for yourself,” he said, urging the delegates to approach Pakistan with an open mind and not let yourself be influenced by negative propaganda fed by the western media.
He said “there are a number of multinational companies which had done very well in Pakistan and I am sure you will also get a good value for your money”. “I would urge all of you to take maximum advantage of this opportunity to know more about Pakistan and Pakistani products,” he added.
Later, Pakistan Commercial Counselor Mr. Wajihullah Kundi briefed the delegates on the arrangements made by Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, the organizer of Expo Pakistan, on providing a business-friendly atmosphere to the Expo delegates. He thanked the Malaysian delegates for their interest in attending the Expo Pakistan, and particularly singled out those who were attending the event for the second consecutive year.