Visit of Indonesian President to strengthen trade relations, says SAARC Chamber

F.P. Report

LAHORE: SAARC Chamber of Commerce Vice President Iftikhar Ali Malik Wednesday said forthcoming 2-day state visit of Indonesian President Joko Widodo to Pakistan will open new vistas of opportunities to further cement bilateral relationship especially in economic sector and enhance the existing trade volume between both Muslim brothers’ countries.

In a statement issue here today, Iftikhar Malik remarked that the recent economic rise of Indonesia was also an example for Pakistan to follow, especially because the two countries shared many similarities in their demographics and trade could cross $5 billion annually comfortably from current $ 2.4 billion. He said that Indonesia is a major trading partner of Pakistan as among the top importing and exporting destinations of Pakistan, Indonesia comes at 3rd and 31st places respectively. Traditionally, the balance of trade has been in favour of Indonesia. Last year, the imports made from Indonesia to Pakistan were almost 16 times greater than our exports to Indonesia.

He said that the bilateral trade figures fairly indicate the economic relations between two countries but these can be even greater if Pakistan is given more access to Indonesian market. Pakistan could not obtain much benefit from PTA signed between two countries and that is why our exports are not picking up?

Iftikhar Malik, who is also central chairman of United Business Group (UBG) and veteran trader said the two countries have common beliefs on religion and International issues, the countries have already cooperated at multiple forums and stood by each other in the difficult times. But he stressed that there is a dire need to enhance the economic and trade cooperation between the countries, it is a great opportunity which shouldn’t be overlooked at the times when other nations are making strong nexuses with each other.

He further said youth from both countries should come forward and play a critical role in further developing the bilateral ties between the countries.He also suggested that both the leadership of Pakistan and Indonesia should work together to bring the Muslim countries close to each other especially in the field of trade and business. He said Turkey, Indonesia and Pakistan should work for the formation of economic bloc in the region.

He said the world is rapidly uniting against the Muslim world and in order to counter them, there is a dire need of promoting trade among the Muslim countries. “There is huge potential for increasing the share of the intra-OIC trade to address the issues of poverty, low economic growth and investment in the member states provided the problems restricting interaction and cooperation between private sector of the member states are removed,” he added.

“If the 57 OIC countries had the political will, the Muslim world would have a lot stronger economic relationship than ever before, he added. However, he said majority of the Muslim countries preferred to trade with the United States or Europe rather than other OIC states. “Improvement in trade within the OIC group can be a lot beneficial for the weaker economies,” he noted. Out of the 49 least developed countries, 22 are members of the OIC.

He said that pak private sector will welcome their counterpart for joint ventures and Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and state departments concerned will facilitate them for promotion of bilateral trade and other economic activities. He said Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi attached great importance to Indonesia and Indonesian investors must take full advantage of an excellent package of incentives for foreign investors.