Conference on trade, tourism opportunities in ASEAN held at LCCI

F.P. Report

LAHORE: As part of the efforts of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) aimed at exploring new avenues for trade, investment and economic gains, a Trade and Tourism Conference on ASEAN was held here on Monday.

Governor Punjab Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, LCCI President Kashif Anwar, High Commissioner of Malaysia Mohammad Azhar Mazlan, Ambassador of Indonesia Adam Mulawarman Tugio, Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry, Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt, spoke on the occasion while Convener LCCI Standing Committee on ASEAN Raja Hassan Akhtar and EC Member Fareeha Younas were also present.

The governor congratulated the LCCI president for organising a conference on the topic. He said that it is also a primary responsibility of the chamber to look for new opportunities.

The governor said that the country was going through extraordinary circumstances. “At present we are witnessing the devaluation of the rupee and our economy is slowing down.” He said that the country was going to default in 2022 and many economists said that we had already defaulted. But we came out of that situations and now we are moving towards new opportunities.

The governor said that there are many opportunities for the businessmen in ASEAN. “We now have to target our untapped export potential and the import potential of ASEAN,” he said and asserted that Pakistan has to improve its halal standards to make its place in the halal market. He said that all institutions and government are fully ready to facilitate the investors.

Talking about tourism, he said that Pakistan has a lot of potential in terms of tourism. He said that investment is needed in tourism infrastructure, hospitality, hotels and restaurants. He said that LCCI Research department should conduct research in collaboration with embassies and work together in each area.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that this conference serves as a pivotal platform for fostering collaboration and improving connectivity among private sector representatives from Pakistan and the member states of ASEAN. It is our shared goal to boost mutual trade and explore new horizons of economic cooperation.
He said that ASEAN region has long been recognized as a dynamic economic powerhouse, and Pakistan is keen to harness the immense potential, it offers for our mutual benefit.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that LCCI has always been at the forefront of supporting the economic growth of Pakistan through facilitating exporters and empowering the local business community. He reaffirmed that solid commitment to this cause, as we believe that promoting international partnerships and collaborations is essential for achieving sustainable economic prosperity.

He said that ASEAN has been one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Over the past few decades, ASEAN has experienced robust economic growth, driven by factors such as favorable demographics, increasing urbanization, rising consumer demand, and expanding trade and investment opportunities.

The LCCI President said that the global exports of ASEAN stood in excess of 2 trillion dollars in year 2022 while imports at 1.87 trillion dollars. Pakistan’s exports to ASEAN are merely 1.58 Billion Dollars while our imports from ASEAN are around 8.96 Billion Dollars.

Pakistan has already signed Free Trade Agreement with Malaysia and the same is in process with Indonesia.

He said that it is worth mentioning that ASEAN serves as a vital trade and investment hub, both within the region and globally. It has established a network of free trade agreements with key trading partners, facilitating trade flows.

High Commissioner of Malaysia Mohammad Azhar Mazlan said that both the countries have excellent relations. At present, more than one lakh Pakistanis are living in Malaysia and 5000 Pakistani students are studying there.

He invited Pakistanis to study in Malaysia and also emphasized the importance of education. He said that the human resources are very important for development. We have a trade of 1.8 billion with Pakistan and the balance is slightly in favor of Malaysia because of palm oil and chemical products export to Pakistan. He said that Pakistan is a region full of opportunities with excellent human resources. It has sea, rivers, ports and its geographical position is ideal. He said that there is a lot of potential in Halal industry and demand for the products ranging from cosmetics to pharmaceutical.

Ambassador of Indonesia Adam Mulawarman Tugio said that ASEAN’s GDP is 30% of the international GDP. We want LCCI to conduct research on South Asian markets in collaboration with various universities. He emphasized that development of Halal industry is very important at this time and the largest importer of Halal cosmetics in the world is European Union. After that, the second largest importer is Russia and the third is France. There is a huge potential for Pakistan in this area. Pakistan is a beautiful country where people are friendly.

It is an important region geographically and geopolitically. “I feel safe here and I consider it a great place for tourism”, he added. He said that we are giving fully funded scholarships for students under which students will be able to stay in Malaysia for two years and get the best education.

Talking about tourism sector, Kashif Anwar mentioned that Pakistan is a land of breathtaking landscapes, rich cultural heritage and centuries old civilizations. From the towering peaks of the Himalayas and the Karakoram to the calm shores of the Arabian Sea, Pakistan offers a diverse range of experiences for travelers. Whether it’s the scenic beauty, adventurous thrills, or the spiritual journey, Pakistan has it all.
He said that the global tourism industry is evolving rapidly.

As we stand on the threshold of a new era, it is compulsory for us to seize the opportunity and market Pakistan’s scenic, adventurous, and religious tourism to attract foreign visitors.

The LCCI President said that our nation has the potential to become a global tourist destination, and this conference represents a significant step towards realizing that vision. For that matter, we are keen to collaborate with Malaysia and Indonesia – the most important members of ASEAN to make the best use of these tourism potential.
One of the primary aims of this conference is to attract investors from the ASEAN region, particularly those belonging to the tourism sector, towards Pakistan. We invite these investors to visit Pakistan and explore the numerous investment opportunities in the field of tourism infrastructure, hospitality, and services.

Together, we can create a vibrant tourism industry that not only enriches our economies but also encourages cultural exchange and understanding among our peoples. (APP)