ISLAMABAD - Jean Marc Fenet, head of the France’s Regional Economic Department for India and South Asia, has said that his country considered Pakistan as a huge market for business and wanted to further improve bilateral trade and economic relations with it.

While addressing the business community at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), he said that, in past, France had a focus on China due to which South Asia was ignored, but now it was focusing on South Asia for business ties. He said Pakistan, being a big market of the region, was gaining more attention of France.

Jean said that due to China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), France was taking more interest in Pakistan as this project was poised to create many new opportunities for business and investment. He said business was the best way to promote bilateral relations between countries. He said France has latest technology and expertise and Pakistan could achieve good results for its economy by enhancing cooperation with it. “I would try to visit Pakistan twice a year to identify new areas of mutual cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

Speaking about Brexit, he said that UK was an entry point for EU, however, Brexit will affect more to UK instead of EU. He suggested that ICCI should take a delegation to France to explore new avenues of mutual collaboration.

Speaking at the occasion, ICCI President Khalid Iqbal Malik said that Pak-France bilateral trade of €1.1 billion in 2015 was not up to the real potential of both countries He said both countries have good potential to enhance cooperation in energy, agriculture, food processing, aviation, IT, automobile, engineering and other areas. He stressed that direct contacts between private sectors should be the main focus to further improve two-way trade volume.

He said that many Pakistani products including sports goods, surgical instruments, leather products, gloves of all sorts, textiles items, sports wears, uniforms, accessories, musical instruments, kitchen ware, cutlery items and military uniform badges could find good market in France and emphasised that French Embassy should facilitate Pakistani business community in promoting exports to France. He said about 44 French companies have business stakes in Pakistan and more should come to explore investment and joint ventures in Pakistan.

ICCI Senior Vice President Khalid Malik, ICCI VP Tahir Ayub, Zafar Bakhtawari, M Zakria, Sh Amir Waheed, Raja Abdul Majeed and other also spoke at the occasion.