PAK-ARGENTINA JOINT VENTURE FOR PHARMACEUTICAL PLANT
Argentina also willing to provide technical assistance for soyabean crop
FROM SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, ISLAMABAD
Mar 13 - 19, 2006
Argentina has shown willingness to extend technical assistance to Pakistan in the agriculture field, especially in soyabean crop.
Argentina, it may be noted, is the biggest grower of soyabean while Pakistan is the largest consumer of this commodity.
Ambassador Rodolfo J Martin-Saravia of Argentina, while assuring technical assistance in harvesting soyabean crop, highlighted a number of issues hampering the bilateral trade between the two countries and forwarded various proposals to give boost to two-way trade.
He said that a high-level trade mission from Argentina is planning to visit Pakistan in coming months to assess the available business opportunities here. He said that the delegation would have in its fold top businessmen belonging to various sectors. It would hold one-to-one meetings with their Pakistani counterparts for initiating joint ventures.
The Ambassador said that an Argentina-based pharma company has recently signed $10 million agreement with a Pakistani firm to put up a pharmaceutical plant for manufacturing Cancer medicines and the plant would, hopefully, become operational by the mid of next year. He said that this is a big achievement and credit for this goes to President General Pervez Musharraf who visited Argentina in December 2004 and convinced the Argentina business community of his government's business-friendly policies.
The Ambassador said that there is a number of other sectors including CNG and livestock in which Pakistani businessmen could learn from Argentina's experience.
On this occasion, Mian Shafqat Ali, President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that although Pakistan and Argentina enjoy friendly relations, the trade between the two countries was insignificant. Argentina's major trading partners are USA, Brazil, Chile, China and Germany. The trade between Pakistan and Argentina over the last five years has averaged around 6 to 8.72 million dollars. During 2004-5, Pakistan's exports to Argentina amounted to 28.4 million dollars against its imports of 66.8 million dollars from that country. The balance of trade has always been in favour of Argentina and needs to be turned into a winówin situation for both the countries.
Major bottlenecks in the promotion of trade and economic activities between the two countries include a lack of information about business opportunities available between the two countries. He said there was 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. Pakistan has adopted a liberal investment policy to attract maximum foreign investment where foreign investors could hold up to 100% equity. There is no restriction on sending back the principal, dividends, profits and royalties. Argentina is a major producer of soyabean, sunflower seeds and cotton. Argentina can optimize its benefits by establishing value addition industries based on soyabean, sunflower and cotton.
There is a huge market for edible oils in Pakistan and the country is also a major importer of edible oils. Pakistani textile industry is highly advanced and its textile made-ups are known for their quality, Argentine can build upon the experience of Pakistan. These industries can be established on 100% equity basis or joint ventures with Pakistani counterparts.
ONE VILLAGE-ONE PRODUCT ON THE PATTERN OF THAILAND
Meanwhile, Ambassador-designate to Thailand Lt. Gen. (Retd) Khateer Hasan Khan has said that a lot of progress can be made on economic front through identification of new items between Pakistan and Thailand.
The fast changing global scenario requires maximum trade among the countries of same region. The European Union's example is enough to make the point. Pakistan is strong enough in the field of textiles and the local businessmen could initiate joint ventures with their Thai counterparts in this particular sector. Citrus and mangos are other strong areas where Pakistani businessmen could make a real fortune. LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali urged the Ambassador to make arrangements for a Single country exhibition in Thailand, as it is an effective tool to increase the level of bilateral trade between the two countries.
Pakistan also needs to evolve its marketing methodology anew as a number of countries are far ahead of us only because of their marketing strategy despite the fact that the goods are inferior in terms of quality.
There is a need to tell the Thais about the tourism sites in Pakistan, as tourism is fast becoming the biggest industry of the world, even bigger than oil. Since Thailand's economy is one of the fastest growing economies in South East Asia it could be taken as a role model for Pakistan in many areas e.g. one village one product. Thailand has highly advanced industries such as electrical appliances, computers, televisions, integrated circuits, textiles & garments, furniture and plastics. It is the second largest tungsten producer and third largest producer of tin. Its main exports are rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances.
Pakistan should invite Thai industrialists to invest on 100% equity basis or in the form of joint ventures with local industrialists as Pakistan has a large market for rubber, jewelry, automobiles, computers and electrical appliances. It is a key market of 155 million people. It is strategically located and is a gateway to Central Asian States, South Asia and Gulf countries. It has the potential to become the hub of economic activities. It can serve as corridor of infrastructure, communication and energy in the region. Such experiences have been very successful in Pakistan.
Pakistan has a liberal investment policy. No sanction is required. There is no restriction on sending back the principal, dividends, profits and royalties. Mian Shafqat Ali said that it is necessary that the business houses like LCCI and the different chambers of commerce and industry in Thailand are actively engaged and trade fairs & single country exhibitions are held to further expand economic and commercial ties.
The diplomatic missions need to explore areas of trade and cooperation between the two countries and actively engage themselves with the Thai government, besides media interviews and meetings with think tanks and business community to create better image of Pakistan and to promote trade between the two countries. Traditionally, Thailand and Pakistan have enjoyed steady economic and trade relations with strong commitment to deal collectively with global issues. Bilateral trade between Pakistan and Thailand has averaged around US$ 306.56 million over the last five years. Pakistan exported goods worth 77 million dollars to Thailand during 2004-5 as against its imports of 413.9 million dollars. Pakistan has been experiencing a trade deficit with Thailand, which has increased from US$ 97.9 million in 1999-00 to US$ 205.9 million.