New concessional list should be considered under Pakistan, Malaysia FTA

New concessional list should be considered under Pakistan, Malaysia FTA

KARACHI: Consul General of Malaysia Khairul Nazran Abd Rahman has said that Malaysia and Pakistan need to agree upon on a new concessional list under the existing Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

Large number of requests have been received from different segments for addition of numerous items in the FTA list in which Pakistani Basmati rice was also not included hence it was being imported by Malaysia from India and Vietnam.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), Malaysian CG said that as Pakistani Basmati rice was not in the FTA list, it was not competitive when compared with other countries exporting this important commodity to Malaysia.

“Meanwhile, the business communities of both countries must hold regular interactions in order to fully utilize and benefit from the existing FTA which would certainly improve the existing trade ties between the two brotherly countries”, he added.

General Secretary Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI AQ Khalil, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam, Vice President Shahid Ismail, KCCI Managing Committee members and others also attended the meeting.

Malaysian Consul General pointed out that the volume of trade improved marginally by 2.5 percent to US$1.47 billion in 2018 as compared to US$1.34 billion in 2017. “Malaysia’s Palm oil is a major product, which alone represents 47 percent of total trade while other traditional products including Pakistani textiles are also being exported to Malaysia. We need to do more and must take advantage of the FTA which was enforced in 2008 and must also focus on non-traditional items as well”, he added.

He said that Malaysia and Pakistan must not remain confined to improving the political and economic ties only but other areas of strategic importance particularly defense, education and tourism must also get special attention from both sides. “We are now focusing on promoting and cooperating in the tourism sector as our cooperation has remained mostly on trade and investment. The tourism sector, having immense potential, has to be given attention which would prove beneficial for the two nations”, he added.

Congratulating the newly elected Office Bearers, the Consul General said that KCCI was not a stranger for him as it was his second visit to this Chamber after assuming charge as Consul General in Karachi last year in the month of June 2018. My intention of today’s visit to KCCI is to explore trade and investment opportunities and identify the potential sectors, particularly the non-traditional goods.

Referring to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad’s visit to Pakistan and PM Imran Khan’s visit to Malaysia, he said, “Both countries have new governments in place and a lot of discussions have taken place and now we need to see the results. Hence, it is right time for the business communities to focus more on improving trade and investment”, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan said, “Today we are living in the 21st century in which nobody is neither dependent nor independent but everyone of us are inter-dependent. Hence, we all must live in harmony and focus on expanding ties particularly in those sectors where there was a comparative advantage.”

Commenting on the scenic sites in the northern areas of Pakistan and Malaysia, he said that Pakistanis were keen to visit Malaysia to see its natural beauty but many of them were unaware of the tourism opportunities in Malaysia and same was the case with Malaysians who don’t know much about the mesmerizing landscapes in northern areas of Pakistan. In this regard, both sides will have to make efforts and devise effective strategies to promote the tourism sector.

To improve the existing trade ties, he opined that Pakistan can exports many of its traditional and non-traditional goods to Malaysia particularly rice, furniture, electric cables, cosmetics, jewelry, food stuff and many other products in which the country has got comparative advantage.

He further advised the Malaysian CG to arrange visit of a Malaysian delegation to Karachi and after identifying the potential sectors, the Karachi Chamber will also look into the possibility of sending relevant delegations to Malaysia so that the trade and investment ties between the two countries could prosper.

Agha Shahab also stressed that the existing FTA needs to be revisited and updated with a list of products having good potential for penetrating into the Malaysian market whereas both countries must also look into the possibility of undertaking joint ventures in the Halal food sector.

He also invited the Malaysian business community to participate in 17th My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony Exhibition scheduled to be organized at the Expo Center from April 17th to April 19th, 2020 which would surely provide a perfect networking platform and help them in identifying the potential products which can be supplied in the Pakistani markets.