HUGE POTENTIAL EXISTS FOR PAK-DUTCH TWO-WAY TRADE

Strong economic indicators have forced the Netherlands to divert its attention towards Pakistan with an aim to curtail poverty by supporting sustainable economic development.

From KHALID BUTT, Lahore
Feb 20 - 26, 2006

There is a lot of potential for increasing two-way trade between Pakistan and the Netherlands, particularly in the field of mango export.

These views were expressed by Mr CW Andreae, Ambassador of Netherlands, while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Wednesday last. The meeting was also addressed by LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali, Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra, former President Mian Misbahur Rehman and former Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari.

The Ambassador was of the view that strong economic indicators have forced the Netherlands to divert its attention towards Pakistan with an aim to curtail poverty by supporting sustainable economic development. He said that a high-powered Dutch business delegation is due to visit Lahore in a few months to have first hand knowledge about the available business opportunities

He informed the participants of the salient features of the Netherlands' economy saying the object of Dutch delegation's proposed visit is to stimulate Dutch companies to make investment in the emerging economies like Pakistan. He said that it would also help create durable trade relations between the two countries, besides curtailing the rate of unemployment. He also urged the Pakistani business community to start joint ventures with their Dutch counterparts.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali said that Pakistan and the Netherlands have always enjoyed cordial relationships. Dutch financial, technical, educational and advisory support to Pakistan has always been of significant value. He said the Netherlands is a Gateway to Europe. Presence of distribution points like the largest seaport in the world i.e. Rotterdam, the Schiphol airport and the head offices of multinational companies like Shell, Unilever, Akzo Nobel, Philips and ABN Amro Bank indicate the infrastructural strength of the Netherlands.

He said that the analysis of trade figures between the two countries indicate that Pakistan's exports to the Netherlands increased from 286.9 million dollars in 2002-3 to 345 million US dollars in 2004-5. On the other hand, Netherlands' exports to Pakistan had decreased from 194 million dollars in 2002-3 to 146.8 million US dollars in 2004-5.

Mian Shafqat Ali said that major bottleneck in the promotion of trade and economic activities between the two countries is the lack of information about business opportunities available in the two countries. There is a need to undertake frequent activities like exchange of business delegations, organizing country exhibitions, participation in fairs & exhibitions, seminars and workshops etc. to ensure a continuous liaison.

The LCCI President said that the foreign private investment in Pakistan by Netherlands is however very encouraging. It had increased from 10.7 million dollars in 1999-00 to 36.7 million US dollars in 2004-5.

In his address, the LCCI Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra urged the Dutch businessmen to invest in Pakistan on 100% equity basis or in the form of joint ventures with local industries as the output of these industries will not only be consumed in Pakistan but will find its way in the much expanded market of SAFTA, Central Asian Republic, Afghanistan and Gulf countries.