ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s exports have performed reasonably well in traditional markets of EU and USA, however, exports to non–traditional markets are much below potential, said Secretary Commerce Mohammad Younus Dagha.

He further said that the present government is exploring opportunities to increase economic interaction and trade with non-traditional markets including Latin Americas. To achieve this end, Ministry of Commerce has engaged embassies of Argentina and Brazil to highlight Pakistan’s trade and investment potential and support Pakistan’s bid for preferential market access with Mercosur (a trade block comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay).

Secretary Commerce held a meeting with a delegation led by Claudio Raja Gabaglia Lins, Ambassador of the Federative Republic of Brazil, to emphasize the need for increased trade and investment between the two countries. Both sides agreed that the positive growth achieved by Brazil and Pakistan in last two years and election of new governments in both countries make it an ideal time to increase economic cooperation.

Secretary Commerce highlighted that both countries are strategically located. Brazil has proximity to North America and Mercosur countries whereas Pakistan is geo strategically located neighboring lucrative markets of China, India, Middle East, Central Asia and Iran. Pakistan’s political stability, improved security environment and improvement in ease of doing business and competitiveness make the country ideal for investment and Brazil can take benefits of these factors” he added.

He observed that the existing bilateral trade between Pakistan and Brazil is far below potential. Dagha highlighted that Pakistan exporters are discouraged by the high tariffs imposed by Brazil and Mercosur economies and Pakistan’s market share is negligible in products of its export strength despite significant imports by Mercosur economies in these products. Significant opportunities also exist for Brazil to increase exports in key sectors where its present market share in Pakistan market is quite low.

Both sides agreed on the merits of preferential trade negotiations that will help lower the high tariffs faced by exporters of both countries. Secretary Commerce suggested that negotiations can be phased in a systematic manner. Both sides can initially identify 20 to 30 priority products for an early harvest program. Based on positive result of early harvest program and increased economic integration, both sides can then graduate towards a PTA and subsequently an FTA over a mutually agreed time frame.

Younus Dagha underlined Pakistan’s liberal investment policies and the incentives offered by the Special Economic Zones to attract Brazilian investment especially in agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure and housing sectors. He emphasized on current investment happening under CPEC and the huge opportunities for B2B and G2G between Pakistan and Brazil under CPEC. He reiterated that Pakistan companies would also like to explore such opportunities in Mercosur countries especially Brazil.

The Brazilian ambassador said that Brazil is very much interested in CPEC projects and there are many large Brazilian companies that would like to be a part especially infrastructure companies. He suggested that more information about investment incentives especially under CPEC be shared with Brazilian authorities and businesses.

The ambassador mentioned many potential areas for collaboration including agro processing, livestock and bio-fuel production. Brazil can render technical assistance and transfer of technology to Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) to enable it to meet globally accepted certification and compliance requirements especially US–FDA.

This would enable Pakistan’s pharmaceutical sector to increase its exports to Brazil, as pharmaceutical products produced in Pakistan are more price competitive. Brazil is also willing to impart training to Pakistan in Gems & Jewellery sector especially in stone cutting, polishing and lapidary. The ambassador said that Brazil can invest and share technology with Pakistan’s sugar industry in ethanol production for use as alternate fuel.

Significant opportunities exist for increasing Pakistan’s exports to Brazil in all sectors especially Sialkot based export industries including surgical and sports goods by greater value addition, the ambassador said. He also mentioned export potential of Pakistan’s handicrafts and hand carved furniture.

Brazilian side suggested that it would be of significant economic consequence if Pakistan sends a trade delegation led by highest-level business and government leaders to Brazil in next 2 to 3 months. The delegation would help establish B2B relations that could lead to significant collaboration and export increase. The delegation would also signal Pakistan’s interest in the market that can have positive affects in expediting preferential trade negotiations.