Home / Interviews / Pakistan still needs hard work for trade openings with GCC countries; Japanese model can help achieve objectives

Pakistan still needs hard work for trade openings with GCC countries; Japanese model can help achieve objectives

Interview with Mr Sher Afgan Malik — Managing Director, International Spectrum Development Inc.

Profile

Mr Sher Afgan Malik graduated from Karachi University in 1965 and got his degree from the Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan in 1967. He started his professional career after getting Finance and Economics degrees in 1967 with an American Defense Contractor in Saudi Arabia. He remained with them for 16 years till the completion of their contracts with Royal Saudi Air Force. Then he joined a Saudi Group and was involved in trading of building materials, transport and steel industry. After spending 30 years in the Gulf, he returned to Pakistan and joined Pakistan International Airlines as its Managing Director. Later on he worked as President of the Institute of Cost & Management Accountants of Pakistan for five years and remained member of the National Council of the Institute for six years. Thereafter, he has been on the boards of several large entities and has also been consultant and provided financial advice to these companies.

PAGE: HOW WOULD YOU COMMENT ON THE TRADE BETWEEN GCC COUNTRIES AND PAKISTAN?

SHER AFGAN MALIK: There has been reasonable amount of trade between Pakistan and GCC countries. Since I was there for 30 years, I can say with certainty that our businessmen have not been aggressive in exploiting the opportunities available to them in this area. GCC governments and their people have fair liking towards Pakistan and its people. Pakistan Government support has been lacking and Pakistani diplomats pay less attention to national requirements than their personal well-being.

PAGE: SHOULD PAKISTAN SIGN FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH KUWAIT, BAHRAIN, SAUDI ARABIA, QATAR, OMAN AND U.A.E?

SHER AFGAN MALIK: Pakistan should sign free trade agreements with GCC countries as soon as possible. It will help boost bilateral trade and we can double and quadruple our exports if strong efforts are made to sell quality products in GCC markets. I must caution that GCC market has become quality and price conscious.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON IMPORTS FROM GCC COUNTRIES:

SHER AFGAN MALIK: GCC countries have become well-developed and many industries have come up plus there are so many other products that Pakistan can import from these countries. It’s not only oil, gas and petrochemicals but hundreds of other products can be exported to Pakistan.

It is always interesting to watch that similar products move back and forth when there are no hurdles in their movement. We can learn lot of lessons from EU countries and see that how products flow back and forth depending on the aggressiveness of marketing staff of different companies.

PAGE: WHAT SHOULD PAKISTAN EXPORT TO GCC COUNTRIES WHICH MAY HELP US IN PROMOTING TRADE?

SHER AFGAN MALIK: Frankly speaking, sky is the limit. People of Pakistan and of GCC have a lot of similarities in culture, religion and social habits. We are already exporting quite a few products and there is ample scope to increase export potential in commodities such as rice, fruit, vegetables, meat, sugar, processed and other food items, textile yarn, cloth, clothing, textile machinery, cement, marble and marble products, wooden and other furniture, jewelry, fans, air conditioners, small and medium size motors, utensils, sporting goods, surgical supplies and instruments, medicine, defense equipment and supplies and we can keep on listing many other products.

If we apply scientific methods of marketing aggressively, we can increase our exports at a much faster pace. This will require partnership and cooperation of private and public entities and Pakistani diplomats will have to help the country in an aggressive mode to help achieve country’s export potential.

PAGE: GIVE YOUR VIEWS ON EFFORTS OF GOVERNMENT FOR PROMOTION OF TRADE WITH GCC COUNTRIES?

SHER AFGAN MALIK: Pakistan government has been planning to improve export potential of Pakistani products but strong efforts are needed to achieve these objectives. Good plans are always made but less practical steps are taken than required. If Pakistani government and private sector want to achieve high targets at fast pace, then practical measures are required.

We can copy the Japanese model and set up trading corporations like Mitsubishi Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, and Sumitomo Corporation. These corporations are spread all over the world and market Japanese products. Japanese producers manufacture goods and these companies act as their agents to market Japanese products all over the world. These trading houses have become so large that their annual turnover runs into several hundred billion dollars each and they always act as Japan Inc. and are spread all over the world. Japanese government through their embassies helps and guides these houses and also keeps them away from mutual competition so that Japan Inc. gets maximum advantage from their activities. Pakistani government can guide and help private sector as it will not be very simple to start these companies.

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