Pakistan seeks increased trade with Malaysia in Agri, Halal sectors)

ISLAMABAD: Leading businessmen and senior government officials from Pakistan and Malaysia Tuesday underscored an effective use of various protocols and frameworks available under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to boost economic relations and broaden the scope of bilateral trade. said a press release issued on Tuesday by Pakistan High Commission, Malaysia.

The two countries agreed that while bilateral trade had witnessed a steady increase since the operationalisation of the FTA in January 2008, there still existed a considerable untapped potential to enhance the two-way commerce and broaden the narrow range of products being traded between the two countries.

The consensus to work aggressively to forge business partnerships emerged at a daylong Pakistan Malaysia Business Forum held in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday under the joint aegis of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA). The event that drew nearly 200 leading Malaysian and Pakistani investors and businessmen for a daylong exchange of business ideas also served as an ideal opportunity for productive networking and business matchmaking. Malaysian Prime Minister’s Special Envoy on South Asia, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu who recently led a business delegation on a visit to Pakistan, also attended the Business Forum.

Speaking on the occasion, Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of International Trade & Industry YB Dato’ Jacob Dungu Sagan welcomed the holding of Pakistan Malaysia Business Forum which, he said, offered a good opportunity to the Malaysian companies to interact, network and build relationships with their Pakistani counterparts. He noted that since the signing of the Malaysia – Pakistan Closer Economic Partnership Agreement, the bilateral trade volume had increased significantly with a current value of US $2.81 billion which put Pakistan as Malaysia’s second largest trading partner in South East Asia last year.

However, he believed there was a considerable room for further expanding the trade ties given a wider range of trade benefits and opportunities available to both parties under the MPCEPA. “Pakistan produces quality and affordable agricultural produces while Malaysia complements this with its expertise, the halal standards, advanced food processing establishments and more access to ASEAN trade courtesy of free trade agreements,” said Dato’ Jacob, urging potential investors to leverage on the complementarities and strengths of both countries.

Addressing the inaugural session of the Forum, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Chairman Tariq Iqbal Puri said Pakistan valued its economic and trade relations with Malaysia and a steady growth in the bilateral trade between the two countries was a reflection of the determination that existed on both sides to further deepen these relations.

He, however, observed that while a steady increase in bilateral trade was a source of satisfaction, both countries could take their economic relations to a new height by aggressively exploring opportunities for joint ventures in sectors such like agriculture and Halal industry which offered better returns and greater scope for growth given a growing demand for quality food and Halal products in the region. He also underscored the need for addressing the trade gap.

In his address, Abdul Rahim Abdul Hamid, Vice President of MIA said that their collaboration with the TDAP was in line with MIA’s vision in being proactive as a global partner committed to the nation building agenda. “MIA is delighted to be given the privilege to share its resources with the High Commission of Pakistan in realising this forum,” he said.

Earlier, High Commissioner for Pakistan in Malaysia, Masood Khalid welcomed nearly 200 businessmen and investors representing major sectors of the Malaysian economy and hoped that the daylong event would enable a fruitful interaction with the Pakistani counterparts with a view to identify new areas for potential collaboration and business partnerships. He called on the Malaysian business community to take advantage of vast Pakistani market and investment opportunities in agriculture, construction, livestock and dairy, energy, education, IT and Halal industry sectors.

Later, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between the Halal Development Council of Pakistan, a non-profit NGO registered in Pakistan, and the Islamic Food Research Asia, a Halal certifying body registered in Malaysia to promote cooperation and support in Halal related initiatives between Malaysia and Pakistan.

The forum was also addressed among others by Bashir Jan Mohammad, Chairman of the Pakistan-Malaysia Business Council; Dato’ Salim Fateh Din, Chairman of the Malaysia-Pakistan Council; Assad Sajjad, Secretary and CEO of Halal Development Council and Chairman of Halal Association of Pakistan (HAP); Saeed Ahmad Shaikh, Council Member from the Institute of Cost & Management Accountant of Pakistan (ICMAP); Deputy CEO MATRADE, Datuk Zakaria Kamarudin; and Matthew Tee, Managing Director of Bina Puri Holdings Berhad.

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