Pakistan's exports to Kuwait have averaged about $ 74 million over the last 3 years against its imports of $ 912.4 million from Kuwait

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Sep 11 - Sep 17, 2006

Dr Waleed Al-Wohhaib, General Secretary Manpower and Government Restructuring Program, Kuwait, has said that joint exhibitions and exchange of sector-specific delegations would prerequisite to take the volume of two-way trade between Pakistan and Kuwait to desired levels.

Dr Waleed Al-Wohhaib was speaking at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry recently. Aqeel A Al-Jassem, Former Secretary General Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Basit, Vice President Aftab Ahmed Vohra, former LCCI/FPCCI President and life member of Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik also spoke on the occasion and threw light on various issues hampering trade between the two brotherly Islamic states.

The Kuwaiti official said that there are lots of opportunities for both Pakistani and Kuwaiti businessmen but only because of lack of proper information the same could not be availed and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry would have to come forward and play their role. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Basit said that despite the fact that Pakistan and Kuwait enjoy friendly relations. Pakistan's exports to Kuwait have averaged about $ 74 million over the last 3 years against its imports of $ 912.4 million from Kuwait and are experiencing a huge deficit in its trade with Kuwait.

The trade with Kuwait seems to have been a one way traffic. On the other hand, Kuwait's imports from India during 2004 were to the tune of $ 403.9 million, which were more than 5 times of Kuwait's imports from Pakistan. He said Pakistan's major exports to Kuwait include textiles, cereals, cotton, electrical & electronic equipment, machinery and fish while main imports from Kuwait are oil and organic chemicals. These two items account for 96.5 percent of Pakistan's total imports from Kuwait. Kuwait from India and Pakistan simultaneously import fish, edible fruits, cereals and pharmaceutical products but the import of these items from India is greater than Pakistan. We would expect that if Pakistani products are competitive in terms of price and quality Kuwait may prefer to import these items from Pakistan. This may help Pakistan reducing its trade deficit with Kuwait.

Abdul Basit said that Kuwait is one of the major sources of foreign remittances for Pakistan. During 2005-6 (July-May) foreign remittances to the tune of $ 223 million were received from Pakistani workers working in Kuwait. Pakistan is a country where skilled manpower is abundantly available. Before Iraqi invasion of Kuwait Pakistan's skilled labour had played its role in Kuwait. Now that normalcy has returned. Kuwait's policy for Pakistan's manpower should open up.

The LCCI Senior Vice President said that Pakistan has a lot of potential for Kuwaiti investors. There is no restriction on repatriation of capital and profits from Pakistan. No sanction is required. Pakistan is a key market of 155 million people and ideally located to service the Central Asian Republics, South Asia and Gulf countries. Kuwaiti investors can invest in oil & gas, power, construction materials, food processing, SMEs etc. SMEs contribute about 35 percent to Pakistan's GDP and nearly 30 to 35 percent in export earnings. The triangle of Lahore, Gujranwala and Sialkot is the centre of SMEs in Punjab. Government of Punjab has set up Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company, which would provide the entrepreneurs fully developed plots, sheds and constructed areas on ownership basis. It would initially rehabilitate the Multan and Kot Lakhpat Industrial Estate and would develop 5 new estates in Punjab.

The LCCI Vice President Aftab Ahmed Vohra urged the Kuwaiti businessmen to come forward and initiate joint ventures with their Pakistani counterparts in the Tourism and transport sectors. He said that both the countries should arrange seminars and single country exhibitions in each other's countries so that the people could have knowledge of products.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI/FPCCI former President Iftikhar Ali Malik said that the world has become very competitive and there is a need to adopt innovative strategy to get hold of market share. He said that Pakistan has cheaper labour with a lot of human resource and potential Kuwaiti investors could avail the opportunity by making investments in various sectors of their own choice.