Pakistan and Bangladesh should make thorough efforts to strengthen bilateral relations in all sectors of the economy, High Commissioner of Bangladesh Rahul Alam Siddique.
Speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Saturday, he said that intensive market research, frequent exchange of trade delegations and close contact between trade bodies of the two countries could give a boost to the current trade volume.
“Jute and tea are major items being exported from Bangladesh to Pakistan,” he highlighted and stressed upon the two nations to identify new areas for cooperation.
He said that exports of Bangladesh to China were rising at a gradual pace.
Siddique informed the business community that all industries in Bangladesh were open and fully functional at present. He remarked that there was huge demand for jute products around the world because of ban on plastic and other materials.
He also added that major destinations for Bangladeshi jute were China, European Union and US.
The envoy underlined that China had allowed special preferences to Bangladesh because many Chinese companies were operating in Dhaka.
“We support the export industry by providing it with subsidies on raw materials, taxes and duties,” he told the businessmen. “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our growth declined but we are improving day by day through vaccination, which is available for every person.”
Moreover, he told the business community that there was no restriction on securing business and family visas for Bangladesh, however, the visa obtaining procedures were lengthy.
Also speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah stressed that Pakistan and Bangladesh should effectively utilise the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) platform. He also urged Saarc to play its due role in enhancing regional trade which was quite low compared to other economic blocs.
“Bangladesh is the 10th largest export destination of Pakistan and it also ranks among top importing countries for Pakistan,” he said. “Although the balance of trade heavily favours Islamabad, the volume of mutual trade is way below the actual potential.”
Citing figures, the LCCI president outlined that the volume of bilateral trade between Pakistan and Bangladesh stood at around $835 million in 2019.
He noted that Pakistan was a major supplier of cotton, cement, yarn, leather, vacuum pumps and other textile items to Bangladesh.
“On the other hand, major imports from Bangladesh include jute, unmanufactured tobacco, fasteners, jute yarn, cotton waste, tea and hydrogen peroxide,” he said.
Misbah emphasised that there was a great potential for exploring mutual trade opportunities in sectors such as pharmaceutical, surgical goods, construction material, light engineering, food processing, and tourism. He held that view that since textile was a major sector in both the countries, there was considerable room for joint ventures in it.
“Recently, Pakistan lifted all the restrictions on visas for Bangladeshi applicants,” he told the envoy. “Direct flights between Dhaka and Karachi need to be restored in order to promote trade.”
Furthermore, he called for launch of a direct shipment facility from the Karachi to Chittagong ports in order to re-establish maritime links.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2021.
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