TRADE between the UAE and Pakistan is expected to hit $9 billion mark this year due to rising crude prices as well as higher demand of Pakistani products in the country, a top diplomat said, Khaleej Times reported. Pakistans exports to the UAE are expected to increase by eight to 10 per cent during financial year 2010-11 as a result of increased demand for its products over the past few months. Its imports from the UAE are also expected to surge from $5 billion to $7 billion this year, Commercial Counsellor Bilal Pasha told Khaleej Times. Pakistans exports to UAE increased to $1.7 billion in 2009-10 compared to $1.47 billion in the corresponding year. In 2010-11 they are forecast to increase to $1.85 to $1.9b as a result of the increased demand, Pasha said. Exports from the UAE to Pakistan were over $5 billion in 2009-10. They are forecast to increase by $1 billion to $2 billion in the financial year ending June 30 this year due to higher crude prices and more demand for items like chemicals, machinery and heavy equipment from the UAE. It means UAE-Pakistan trade may register up to 28 per cent growth in 2010-11 to cross $9 billion mark. He said the demand for mid-range level products from Pakistan and other countries has received a boost since consumers have become more conscious after the global financial crisis. This trend has increased demand for Pakistani products like rice, textiles, food items, cement, and gold jewellery. The exports will also get a boost in the livestock and poultry sector. Foreign Direct Investment from the UAE is also expected to get a boost in 2011 as UAE is planning to invest in the food, telecommunications, and oil and gas sectors, Pasha said. UAE a leading investor Investments from UAE have witnessed a surge since 2005 and UAE became single largest source of FDI in Pakistan in 2005-06. However, since then the FDI from UAE has been declining. UAEs companies are working in Pakistan in airlines, financial business, telecommunications, oil and gas and real estate sectors. The UAE has also become the largest single source of foreign remittances through banking channels. Business delegations from the Ras Al Khaimah and Ajman free zones have also visited Pakistan while Pakistani business delegations from Rawalpindi, Gujranwala, Lahore and Karachi chambers of commerce and industry have visited the UAE. A high-level delegation of businessmen from the Punjab province of Pakistan, led by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, visited the UAE and also attended Pakistan Business and Investment Conference in Dubai last month during which UAE companies signed MoUs worth $1.3 billion for investment in Pakistan. Pasha said that Abu Dhabi and Dubai chambers of commerce and industry were being invited to visit the Expo Pakistan exhibition of Pakistani products in Karachi from February 25-28, 2011. Giving historical perspective of trade, Pasha said that trade between the two countries is increasing and UAE has emerged as second largest destination of Pakistani exports. The increase is significant since the beginning of 2006 and approximately a rise of eight per cent on average in exports in value terms on average is seen. The statistics show that from 2000-2001 to 2004-2005, bilateral trade grew at annual average of $ 200-300 million. Exports experienced constant growth during the last eight years and these rose from $626 million to over $2 billion (2000-2001 to 2007-08). In percentage terms it works out an increase of 230 per cent with 2000-01 as base year, Pasha added. Pakistans main export products are rice, textiles, petroleum products, gold and jewellery, fruits and vegetables, meat and meat products, fish and fish products. Dr Qaiser Anees, founder member of Pakistan Business Council Abu Dhabi, and member of the Overseas Pakistanis Advisory Council, told Khaleej Times that during the July-December period of 2010, remittances from the UAE were $900 million and were expected to reach $2 billion by June 2011. He said that Pakistan stock markets were doing very well, especially the premium shares in banking, energy, cement, fertilizer sectors were giving good returns, thus offering an opportunity for the UAE investors. He said that the business council aimed at having at least 10 Pakistani leading companies shares to be traded on the Abu Dhabi and Dubai financial markets. For this purpose comprehensive MoUs have been signed by the two stock exchanges with the stock exchanges of Karachi and Lahore and with Pakistani depository companies. An agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan was in the process of being signed which will pave the way for the trading of shares, he said. Dr Anees said that UAE trade market has worth over $200 billion. The business council was working to secure as much share as it can, he said. He said that UAE offered great potential for Pakistani businessmen, especially in Masdar alternate energy, ICAD industrial cities, the new Abu Dhabi Airport Free Zone, Keemiat, and Tourism Development Investment Corporation projects.