KARACHI - Frequent holding of “Interiors Pakistan” exhibition in mega cities is developing entrepreneurship through various capacity building measures and educating woodworkers to adopt modern designs efficiently on high-end furniture machines besides triggering further investments and employment in the country.

SM Muneer, patron-in-chief United Business Group and former Chief Executive Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), while inaugurating the exhibition here on Friday at Expo Center, said the potential of furniture industry here in Pakistan is enormous as well and he believed that, within 2-3 years, it could even be double if the government patronized this industry.

He said the exhibition featured a comprehensive range of furniture by a diverse portfolio of quality exhibitors; and attracts a healthy and well-represented attendance of trade buyers and visitors.

Appreciating the role of PFC in organizing frequent exhibitions inside the country, SM Muneer said such exhibitions would allow companies the opportunity to increase brand awareness and have the chance to strengthen relationships with their existing customers as well as establish relations with international exhibiting companies attending the fair.  “There would be an opportunity for B2B and B2C meetings. This would prove a gateway to international market,” he added. He said a drop in the country’s exports from $25b to $20b was witnessed due to the long unresolved issues of export industry.

He said Pakistan can earn billions of rupees by increasing export volume of furniture items but there is dire need of export friendly policies by the government. However, the government has failed to reduce the cost of doing business over the last four years, he remarked. He pointed out that the energy prices for export industry in Pakistan were very high throughout the region and manufacturing was not viable. “The government has failed to bring it at par with the competing countries,” he added.

Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry Iftikhar Ali Malik said the employment generated by the timber industry is absolutely critical to the working class and it is therefore equally critical that the industry takes even bigger steps towards making this industry truly sustainable.

However, he said, the illegal cutting of timber over time — without any new plantations to replace the trees — has led to an acute shortage of local hardwood for the city’s furniture makers. Besides, the illiterate and unskilled labour is also stunting the industry’s growth.

He said with a little innovation, investment and government support, furniture industry can generate even more employment and income from sustainable economy. He said textiles and rice are currently the largest exports of Pakistan bringing in $14 billion and $2 billion of foreign exchange, respectively. Furniture exports on the other hand stand at a meager $51 million.

“I am impressed by the quality work which has been displayed here by the young designers who are specializing in furniture. Unique ideas can be lifted by the commercial companies time to come,” he added.

Chief Executive PFC Mian Kashif Ashfaq said that the “Interiors Pakistan” is an opportunity for the largest furniture companies and interior designers across the country to display their products. The council expects that there will be over 200,000 visitors based on the success of the previous exhibitions.

He further said that with its previous experience, the PFC remained one of the most distinctive channels for regional and international companies to penetrate the global market. It is renowned among international buyers for quality, value and wide selection of all types of furniture.

“We all have to invest and work hard, so that PFC and its Furniture Fair remains the only place and time where people have to be in order to learn about the latest news and the best creative endeavors.” He added.

The exhibition housed national and international brands showcasing over 1000 unique products and services for the time in Pakistan. The products are of interest to interior designers, builders, hoteliers and the general consumer.

Following inauguration, the dignitaries were taken around the stalls and expressed keen interest in the exhibition.