Belgian businessmen urged to take a closer look of industrial units being offered under privatization programme

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Aug 08 - 14, 2005

The Director Belgian Walloon Export Agency, Charles Delhaye, and the President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mian Misbahur Rehman, have agreed to organize more business delegations to and from Belgium in a bid to increase the volume of two-way trade between the two countries.

The agreement was reached during a meeting between an LCCI delegation, headed by its President Mian Misbahur Rehman and Director Belgian Walloon Export Agency Charles Delhaye.

The LCCI delegation comprised Mian Muzaffar, Mubasher Sheikh, Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmad, Aamir Qadir and Munawar Hussain Malik.

The Pakistani delegation held a number of important business meetings with the Belgian counterparts during its stay in Brussels.

Mian Misbahur Rehman invited the Belgian businessmen to take a closer look of Pakistan and study the industrial units being offered under privatization programme.

The Director Belgian Walloon Export Agency, Charles Delhaye while recalling his last visit to Lahore assured the LCCI delegation of his full cooperation to strengthen the existing business relations between the two organizations. He informed the meeting participants of the latest successful conclusion of a joint venture between a Belgian company and Lahore City District Government, besides a number of other projects which are progressing satisfactorily.

He lauded the efforts of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in highlighting the image of the country and allaying the apprehensions of the foreign investors about ongoing situation in Pakistan.

He also eulogized the LCCI for arranging such a high profile delegation to Europe, saying that the exchange of trade delegations and trade fairs are the most effective marketing tool in this fast changing global scenario.

Speaking at a business dinner hosted by Pakistan's Economic Minister at Brussels, the LCCI President briefed the meeting about the successful measures taken by the government to stabilize economy to achieve a GDP growth of 8.4 per cent in the last financial year.

He said that Pakistan has transformed itself into a stable regional economy and an investment-friendly state. Mian Misbah said that it is high time that the foreign investors should take advantage of the situation by making investment in their field of choice. He said that almost all the economic sectors have been opened for direct foreign investment.

He said that the policies have been so liberalized that all the foreigners have a free access to the stock markets and there are no restrictions on repatriation of profits.

He said that there is no limit on equity held by foreigners and no requirements for entering into joint ventures with Pakistani businessmen.

The LCCI delegation also held one-to-one meetings with their Belgian counterparts who expressed their keen interest in increasing investment in Pakistan.

Pakistan enjoys good relations with Belgium. Both the countries have commonality of views on various issues. In order to strengthen the bilateral relations between the two countries and to improve the image of Pakistan, the Prime Minister of Pakistan visited Belgium in January 2005.

Belgium is 5th major trade partner of Europe and 13th of Pakistan. It has helped Pakistan in the dredging works at the Ormara port, construction of a fish harbour in Gawadar, implementation of Siemens projects, heat recovery system at WAPDA Thermal Power Plants located at Faisalabad and Kotri, besides partly funding Guddu Thermal Power Plant's Extension Project.

The bilateral trade between Pakistan and Belgium has increased from US$ 323.8 million in 1998-99 to US$ 524.3 million in 2003-04 indicating an increase of 61.75%.

Major exports include: Cotton, wool, cotton waste, leather, cow calf finished, leather cow hides, textile yarn, fabrics, articles of apparel/cloth accessories, sports goods, transport equipment, coal & coke, surgical instruments and rice.