TRADE

 

LONDON SITUATION FAST RETURNING TO NORMALCY

 
There exists a lot of opportunities for Pakistani entrepreneurs in United Kingdom
 

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Aug 29 - Sep 04, 2005

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Sir Ghulam Noon, former President London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, while talking about recent blasts in Britain, observed that it is nothing to scare about as extremist elements are trying to spoil the atmosphere, but the situation is fast returning to normal.

Speaking as the guest speaker at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sir Ghulam Noon said, "There exists a lot of opportunities for Pakistani entrepreneurs in United Kingdom and they should avail the same to the maximum".

LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman and Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari also spoke on the occasion. Sir Ghulam Noon said that the Britain is one of the major shareholders in Pakistan's industry and this volume of investment could go to new heights if concerted efforts were made in right direction. In this age of technological advancement, only those businesses would survive which would keep pace with the fast changing global scenario, he observed.

Mian Misbahur Rehman said, "The business communities of the two countries should keep on exploring the opportunities of mutual interest. Business delegations composed of sector-specific participants or product-specific group of entrepreneurs should be organized regularly as business houses can always join hands to yield tangible results". Pakistan and United Kingdom enjoy good economic relations, though trade between the two countries is progressing, it is not up to the mark and leaves much to be desired.

Trade volume between the two countries during 2003-04 was $ 1.38 billion where Pakistan's exports were US$ 940.9 million against imports of $ 438.2 million. The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) from U.K. increased from US$ 64.9 million in 2004-05 to US$ 181.5 million in 2003-04. The LCCI President said that the level of trade between the two countries could be increased significantly by removing anti-dumping duties imposed @ 13.1% by the European Union on the export of bed linen from Pakistan and avoiding change in the Rules of Origin, which would result in relocation of entire value-added textile sector to less developed countries. Mian Misbah said that Pakistan is on the road to political and economic stability.

The outgoing fiscal year was an eventful year in which its real GDP grew by 8.4% as against 6.4% in the preceding year. While the overall manufacturing registered a growth of 12.5%, large scale manufacturing and services sector posted respectable growth figures of 15.4% and 7.9%, respectively. Pakistan is a key market having a population of 153 million and its manpower is highly capable. Labor is comparatively cheap. Investment operations based in Pakistan would not be restricted to the Pakistani market alone but would find their way to India and Central Asian States.

The establishment of Gawadar Port and Sundar Industrial Estate offer huge opportunities of investment by British citizens. Some of the portion of Sundar Industrial Estate in Lahore has been reserved exclusively for foreigners. To be specific, Pakistan offers immense scope for investors in information technology, telecommunication, textiles (value-added), oil & gas, water & power, food & food processing, SMEs, engineering, tourism and services etc. These potentials need to be studied and monitored by the British investors, particularly those having Pakistani origin. The investment policy has been liberalized and made business friendly. All economic sectors have been opened to foreign direct investment. Free movement of foreign exchange has been allowed. Foreigners have free access to capital markets and there are no restrictions on repatriation of principal, dividends and profit, etc. There is no limit on equity held by foreigners and no requirement for entering into a joint venture with a Pakistani counterpart. There is no restriction on borrowing if government guarantees are not sought. Overseas Pakistanis who bring US$ 20 million for investment would be provided 10 acres of land free of cost for undertaking their ventures. The LCCI Senior Vice President, Sohail Lashari, said that Pakistanis living in United Kingdom should invest in industrial sector back home as industry is growing fast and the right decision would not only eliminate poverty but would also bring down the graph of unemployment.

SENSITIVE ITEMS

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and various associations of the city recently discussed in detail the Sensitive List of items being finalized by the government in the wake of SAFTA. The participants of the discussions included Collector Customs, Mahboob Saqib Khan and Additional Collector Dry Ports Shujaut Din, LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman, Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari, Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad, besides leading business leaders Mian Ashraf, Iftikhar Ali Malik, Sheikh Mohammad Asif, and representatives of the city associations.

The LCCI called the meeting keeping in view the significance of the Sensitive List and potentially adverse impact arising out of the omission of any item on which tariff protection needs to be maintained under SAFTA. The aforesaid list incorporates those items on which no tariff concession will be allowed by Pakistan under preferential trading system of SAFTA to SAARC member countries. It is pertinent to mention here that the Committee of Experts (COE) on SAFTA at its 9th meeting held in Katmandu (19-22 July, 2005) decided that each member would review its Sensitive List prior to the last meeting of COE on SAFTA.