LAHORE: Kazakhstan and Pakistan have agriculture and industry-based economies, therefore, they should enhance cooperation in these areas, emphasised Kazakhstan Ambassador Akan Rakhmetullin.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday, the envoy said both countries direly needed foreign direct investment and cooperation between the two sides would help yield desired results.
He added that this was the perfect time to collaborate and lift the bilateral trade volume. “There is a lot of trade potential between the two countries,” he said. “Business-to-business contacts and exchange of trade delegations can contribute massively in this regard.”
He invited Pakistani businessmen to invest in free economic zones in Kazakhstan, which were exempt from all sorts of taxes, and promised full cooperation in that regard.
Replying to a question about the tourism sector, the envoy pointed out that Kazakhstan did not have a lot to offer to tourists but Pakistan had immense potential in the sector and tourists from Kazakhstan would love to visit Pakistan due to its natural beauty and historic sites.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Kazakhstan dated back to the early 1990s. “In fact, Pakistan was among the first countries to recognise Kazakhstan as a sovereign state in 1991 after the break-up of Soviet Union,” he recalled.
The LCCI president said in 2017 the two-way trade volume stood at around $78 million, which rose to $90 million in 2018 due to 24% rise in Pakistan’s exports to Kazakhstan.
Goods that Pakistan exported to Kazakhstan included rice, oilseeds and fresh fruits whereas its imports from Kazakhstan comprised mostly chemicals.
“Although the trade balance has been in favour of Pakistan and it is going up, still its magnitude needs to be enhanced,” he stressed.
He held the opinion that Pakistan had a considerable potential and it could enhance exports to Kazakhstan, particularly of pharmaceuticals, value-added textile products, ceramics and furniture.
“In order to enhance the volume of trade, more tradable items should be identified while keeping in view the market demand in the two economies,” he emphasised. “There is also a strong need for increasing people-to-people contacts through trade delegations to help in business matchmaking.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 27th, 2019.