SIALKOT

Terming Pakistan safe, peaceful and ideal country for foreign investment, the Ambassador of Belgium Mr Peter Claes has announced a sizeable increase in trade volume between Belgium and Pakistan and hoped that it will further increase to the tune of US $ 1 billion by 2015.

Bilateral trade remained 298 million euros during 2013, he said and added that trade volume was increase was growing day by day.

The Belgian ambassador highly praised the elimination of child labour from Sialkot’s soccer ball industry, and the unique export culture of Sialkot. He urged the Sialkot exporters to take GSP Plus status as a challenge and concentrate on quality production to meet the standards fixed for international trade, particularly by the European Union.

He lauded Pakistan government’s industrial and economic policies and stressed the implementation of such policies. He termed Pakistan’s ‘trade not aid policy’ a healthy and good sign. He said that Belgium intended to have strengthened mutual trade relations with Pakistan, adding that the Belgium would ensure easy access of Sialkot exporters to EU and Belgian markets.

The envoy said his country was keen to enhancing bilateral trade and economic relations with Pakistan. He stressed a need for boosting the mutual trade ties, saying both the countries have been enjoying cordial relations and the time was ripe to further strengthen the same. Belgium was the fifth largest importer of Pakistani products in the European Union.

Belgian Embassy’s Trade Commissioner Abid Hussain, SCCI President Dr Sarfraz Bashir, Senior Vice President Mian Muhammad Anwar and Vice President Khawar Sapal were also present. Dr Sarfraz Bashir said that both the countries must further strengthen economic relations, through facilitation of governments and close coordination of private sectors.

SCCI President suggested the exchange of information through Embassy of Belgium and the SCCI on market studies, product demand, business laws and regulations, exchange of business delegations, organizing regular single-country exhibitions in both the countries, signing of accords between the SCCI and the Brussels Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI).

The SCCI president told the Belgium ambassador that Sialkot-made footballs, field hockey sticks, cricket gear, and boxing gloves are used in international games including the Olympics and World Cups. Most of the developed countries are importing surgical instruments from Sialkot, he claimed.

“In leather products and textile sportswear, we excel in quality and style.  Similar is the case with other items produced in Sialkot,” he revealed. Addressing the meeting, SCCI SVP Mian Muhammad Anwar revealed that the EU market could have a big demand for the items produced in Sialkot-Pakistan. There was a great potential for establishing joint ventures and business cooperation between Belgian and Sialkot based companies especially in the fields of Sports Goods, Surgical Instruments and Leather Products.

Earlier, the ambassador visited several leading industrial units in Sialkot amid tight security. He witnessed craftsmanship of Sialkot. He said that the Sialkot exporters have a great potential to explore and capture the EU and Belgium trade markets by exporting their world class diversified traditional and non-traditional export items.

He showed keen interest in the manufacturing processes of the sports goods and surgical instruments in Sialkot factories. He pledged to make efforts to ensure easy and hurdle-free access of Pakistan to the Belgian and EU international trade markets.

Addressing the meeting, Trade Commissioner of Belgium to Pakistan and Afghanistan Abid Husain said, “We are keen to develop long lasting links with the entrepreneurs and industrialists of Sialkot because the city is a vibrant and dynamic industrial hub of Pakistan.

Talking to the members business community at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, he said the concept of visiting to Sialkot was part of series of manifestation that characterise the expanding economic relations between Belgium and Pakistan.

He further said that Belgian-Pakistan bilateral trade was showing a steady increase every year with the balance of trade in favour of Belgium. He said that in 11 months of 2013 Pakistan’s exports to Belgium was 298 million euros which indicates the importance of Belgium as a strategic transit point for the European markets adding that 73 percent of Pakistan’s were textile related.

As for as Belgian exports to Pakistan in 11 months of 2013 have surpassed all previous records to reach 322 million euros which very encouraging for the companies and trade relations, he said. He further stated that Belgium is a viable and trustworthy partner with solid credentials in industrial and business world.

“The importance we attach to our relations with Pakistan is quite evident. Belgium is the 5th largest trading partner of Pakistan from within the 28 European countries,” he added. He invited the business community of Sialkot to explore the possibility of investing in Belgium in setting up “distribution centres and or warehouses” for products enabling to access the European market more effectively.