LAHORE: Mr Nat Pinyo Wattana Cheep, Thai Minister, Department of South Asian, Middle East and African Affairs, has said that the Thai government is giving top priority to early signing of Free Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Thailand and for the purpose it is focusing on an early meeting of Pak-Thai Joint Trade Commission.
The Thai Minister was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Monday.
LCCI Acting President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad presided over the function while Vice President Sohail Azhar, Thai Ambassador to Pakistan Marut Jitpatima, former LCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Basit, Executive Committee Members Mian Zahid Javaid and Dr Shahid Raza also spoke on the occasion.
Mr Nat Pinyo Wattana Cheep said that both Pakistan and Thailand have very strong credentials to give new strengths to their respective economies as both the countries have good geographical locations making them a safe haven for investment.
The Minister said that the fact remains that the volume of trade between the two countries is much below their respective potential on various sectors of the economy and the lack of dissemination of information could be one of the biggest reasons.
He said that the recent tragic incident in Norway was enough to make the point that the terrorists have no religion therefore the wrong perception about Pakistan being painted by the international media has nothing to do with ground realities.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI Acting President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that the import and export profiles of the two countries indicate that there is a potential of increasing Pakistan’s export to Thailand, while Pakistan also has huge potential of importing goods from Thailand. He said that business-to-business contacts and one-to-one meetings are the most productive means of marketing a country’s products.
He said that Thailand and Pakistan have been enjoying steady economic and trade relations. Our bilateral trade has averaged around US$ 682 million from 2007 to 2009. But in year 2010, it touched the record figure of US$ 953.3 million which is an encouraging sign. The LCCI Acting President said that the balance of trade has been heavily favouring Thailand as Pakistani exports have yet to cross the US$ 100 million mark. Whereas, our imports from Thailand have gone as high as US$ 872.4 million in year 2010. In such scenario, the visit of Thai delegation to Pakistan is of great value.
He said Pakistan is already exporting cotton, fish and other sea food, knitted fabric, meat, raw hides & skins, machinery, medical & optical apparatus and pharmaceutical products etc to Thailand. But the potential to export to Thailand is far more diversified and sizeable than the current one.
Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that Pakistan is strategically located and is a gateway to the markets of Central Asian Republics and the Gulf countries. Any investment made in Pakistan will find markets in the entire region surrounding Pakistan. Industrial parks development will be a good choice for Thai business tycoons as they will surely be supported by Pakistan government as well.
The LCCI Acting President said that Thai investors who are interested to weigh up the energy sector of Pakistan especially untapped potential of coal and renewable/alternate energy would be facilitated all the way.
He said that the LCCI is desirous of developing a close linkage among the business support organizations for ensuring continuity in mutual efforts of both the countries to increase the volume of trade between two countries.
To further expand economic and commercial ties it is necessary that Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Boards of Investment of the two countries play their due role. Trade fairs & single country exhibitions can be arranged on reciprocal basis to achieve this goal.