Sweden trying to ensure GSP plus status for Pakistan in European Union: Swedish Envoy

LAHORE: The Swedish Ambassador in Pakistan, Ulrika Sundberg, has said that Sweden is making all out efforts to ensure GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) plus status for Pakistan in European Union and hopefully a good news would be coming soon.

The Ambassador was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday. LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik, Senior Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad, former Presidents Mian Misbahur Rehman, Mian Muzaffar Ali, former Senior Vice Presidents Sohail Lashari, Ejaz A Mumtaz, Executive Committee members Kh. Khawar Rasheed, Saeeda Nazar and Ms Aasia Saail Khan, Convener, S/C on Women Entrepreneurs Development also poke on the occasion.

We are very much pushing for GSP Plus status for Pakistan as we are very much convinced that Pakistan has a huge untapped potential.

The Swedish Ambassador said that Swedish business people were very much willing to work with their counterparts in Pakistan. They are ready for Joint Ventures also.

She said that there is a dire need to develop a close liaison between private sectors of Pakistan and Sweden for exchange of information and market research.

She said that Sweden for being an important member of European Union has a huge untapped potential and the Pakistani businessmen should come forward to avail these opportunities.

She said that both the countries need to identify more tradable products to enhance their mutual trade while focusing on value-addition. Pakistan is known around the globe for its textile products, sports goods, surgical instruments, fresh fruits & vegetables, rice, carpets, leather made ups, fish & fish preparations, handicrafts, artificial jewellery, fancy furniture, footwear, hosiery, garments, and so many other consumable items, which still needs to be properly introduced in European Market.

She said that Pakistani business community would have to adopt an aggressive strategy to enter into Swedish Market because Swedes are not only the quality conscious but very selective and careful while making deals with other countries.

She said that Sweden was taking appropriate and sector-specific measures to expedite trade relations with Pakistan as presently it was doing 80 per cent of its trade with regional countries in the European Union therefore Pakistan should adopt the same methodology because it has a marvellous potential in all the sectors.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik said that like any developing country, Pakistan has always been experiencing trade deficit with Sweden. We would naturally like Sweden to import more from Pakistan to create a win-win situation for both the countries.

We expect that Sweden whose agriculture sector holds quite negligible share in the structure of the economy, may consider increasing its imports from Pakistan particularly adding up our agro products. We are not only good in quality but are also competitive in international market. The taste and aroma of Pakistani rice, mangoes, kinno etc have no match in the world.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s major imports from Sweden are iron & steel, paper and paper-board, machinery, electrical and electronic equipment, pulp of wood, plastics & copper products and chemical products, etc. These too are a minor fragment of Pakistan’s imports from the world. Hence there is a possibility of greater export of these commodities by Sweden to Pakistan. The LCCI President said that for broadening mutual trade & investment, there is no other way so powerful and effective than the exchange of delegations. The LCCI is in correspondence with Stockholm Chamber of Commerce which is planning to take a Swedish delegation on reciprocal basis to Pakistan by the end of 2011.

The LCCI President said that it is high time for both the countries to make a new start by initiating new business ventures. He said that Pakistani Mission abroad could help a lot in multiplying the existing volume of exports, which is very small when it is compared to other global economies. He said that Sweden has highly advanced industries such as iron & steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio & telephone parts, armaments) wood pulp, paper & paper board, processed foods and motor vehicles. There is a need to invite Swedish businessmen to establish such industries in Pakistan on 100% equity basis or in collaboration with Pakistani businessmen. Pakistan has cheap but skilled labour and a huge market for such products. It is a key market of 170 million people. It can service the markets of Central Asian States, South Asia and Gulf States.

He said that to further expand economic and commercial ties it is necessary that the business houses and the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the two countries are actively engaged. He urged the ambassador to help explore areas of trade and cooperation between the two countries. The LCCI Senior Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that there is a vast room to further enhance the trade profile of the two countries by adding to the list of items currently traded.

In-depth market research should be conducted to identify more items keeping in view the futuristic course of demands of the products in the two countries. More frequent trade promotional activities are required to be organized on reciprocal basis. He said that major bottleneck in promotion of trade and economic activities between the two countries is the lack of information about business opportunities available between the two countries. We 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.

Convener LCCI Standing committee on Women Entrepreneurs Development Ms Aasia Saail Khan gave a number of recommendations in her detailed presentation given to the Ambassador on as to how the volume to trade between the two countries could be enhanced. While stressing the need for export of value added garments, handicrafts, jewellery, home linen and pharmaceutical products to Sweden, she urged the Ambassador to ensure transfer of technology to Pakistan to overcome the issues being faced by the country including acute shortage of energy. LCCI Executive Committee Member Khawaja Khawar Rashid presented vote of thanks to the Ambassador.

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