KARACHI: Bilateral trade between France and Pakistan will make a quantum leap after Islamabad wins GSP Plus status, which provides developing countries preferential access to European Union markets with reduced tariffs, says Regional Director of External Trade Agency of France (South Asia) Pierre Lignot.
“Although Pakistan is 65th in the hierarchy of trading partners of France, I am hopeful that after the attainment of GSP Plus, Pakistan’s trade with France will make a quantum leap,” he said while talking to businessmen at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI).
Lignot, who is based in New Delhi, said the French Trade Commission could assist French companies doing business in India to connect with Pakistani counterparts. “Customised services can also be provided to interested KCCI members for match-making with French companies,” he added.
The French Trade Commission promotes trade relations between France and South Asian countries and assists France-based companies seeking potential partners in regional markets of South Asia.
Lignot asked French companies to participate in the 10th “My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony” exhibition, to be organised by the KCCI in July this year.
KCCI President Muhammad Haroon Agar sought fresh French investment, pointing out that many French companies were enjoying profitable business in Pakistan.
According to the KCCI’s research department, bilateral trade between Pakistan and France stands at about $1.3 billion and is tilted in Pakistan’s favour. The trade has not halted and is growing with the passage of time.
Besides trade, France and Pakistan has close relationship in diplomatic affairs, military and defence, culture and education.
In August 2010, the two sides agreed to set up a joint commission that would undertake cooperative projects in food and agriculture, economic development, security and medical training. Recently, they have signed an agreement on strengthening economic and commercial relationship.
Former foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar and French Minister of State for External Trade Pierre Lellouche signed the Joint Declaration on Economic and Commercial Partnership.
Under the declaration, both the countries will try to develop a framework for closer economic cooperation and enhancing trade and investment links in order to strengthen mutual relationship.
France is helping Pakistan in the energy crisis through AFD (Agence Francaise de Developpement). France is also a good market for Pakistani textile products, especially readymade garments, bed wear and knitwear.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 10th, 2013.
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