LAHORE: Deputy High Commissioner and Trade Director for Pakistan Sarah Mooney said on Wednesday that the UK was working to increase trade and investment in Pakistan.
She was talking to the business community at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), where LCCI President Kashif Anwar and Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood also spoke.
Sarah Mooney said, “The High Commission is researching to identify those products which could get significant success in the UK’s market and after identifying those products, we would come back to Pakistan’s business community.”
The deputy high commissioner said that floods caused devastation and disaster in Pakistan and “I am very encouraged to see that the British citizens contributed around 100 million pounds for the flood relief efforts. The British government has a disaster relief fund and the UK citizens are contributing to that fund”.
She said, “We have 96 per cent duty-free products coming from Pakistan and are working on the rest. Education is our priority area where we want to collaborate with the Pakistani institutions and enhance cooperation and we are also keen to support education below university level. The other areas in which we are interested include sustainable growth, green energy and infrastructure development. Lastly, the healthcare is our other priority area.”
Sarah Mooney added, “We must go forward to change the style of partnership between Pakistan and United Kingdom which should be a genuine partnership where we bring investment and expertise to Pakistan and to take benefit from the expertise in Pakistan.”
LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that Lahore Chamber had always attached great value to have good working relations with British High Commission for the sake of exploring ways to further strengthen bilateral ties. He said that the United Kingdom had been one of the major trading partners of Pakistan and was currently the fourth largest export market for Pakistani products.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan statistics, he mentioned, Pakistan’s exports to UK were around US$2.2 billion in 2021-22 as compared to around US$2 billion in 2020-21. On the other hand, Pakistan’s imports from the UK were US$869 million in 2021-22 as compared to US$780 million in 2020-21. “Pakistan’s exports to the UK are dominated heavily by textiles. We are of the view that the bilateral trade volume, which currently stands around US$3 billion, should be taken to at least US$10 billion,” he added.
The LCCI president said that they were thankful that even after Brexit, the United Kingdom had kept on giving them the same level of market access, as there was under the GSP plus status. “We have learnt that the UK government had launched the Developing Countries Trading Scheme through which Pakistan will continue to benefit from duty free exports to the UK.
Furthermore this scheme will remove tariffs on more than 150 products exported from Pakistan. Please share with us more details of the said scheme.”
He said that Pakistan was facing steep economic challenges. The devastating floods of 2022 affected 33 million people in Pakistan and more than 1,700 people lost their lives. The total economic losses were estimated to be over US$30 billion. The sectors of housing, agriculture, livestock, and infrastructure suffered the most significant damages. He said that the current foreign exchange crisis had forced restrictions on the ability of banks to open LCs. Shipping containers were stuck at ports which were creating threats to the supply chain of manufacturing and industrial sectors.
Kashif Anwar said that there were great opportunities for the British companies to enter into joint ventures with Pakistani companies and enhance economic cooperation in the areas of healthcare, education, green energy, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, IT, mining and tourism. Combating climate change was an important area where both the countries needed to enhance cooperation. He said that there was also a great potential for enhancing Pakistan’s food sector exports to the UK. For this purpose, the Pakistani exporters needed better guidance for meeting the UK standards to gain deeper penetration into its food market.
He said that the LCCI was particularly concentrating on the development of SMEs with special focus on women entrepreneurs. “We would certainly like to collaborate with British High Commission for attaining the desired results,” he concluded.(APP)