LAHORE    -   Ambassador of Belgium to Pakistan Philippe Bronchain has said that strengthening of trade, investment, economic and friendly relations between the two countries was his mission.

He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Monday. LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar, Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad, Trade Commission of Belgian Embassy Abid Hussain, LCCI former Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa, Executive Committee Members Haji Asif Sehar, Haris Attiq, Aaqib Asif, M Arshad Khan, Sh Sajjad Afzal, Wasif Yousaf, M Nusrat Tahir and Zeeshan Sohail Malik also spoke on the occasion.

The ambassador said that Belgium and Pakistan enjoy over 70 years of cordial relations, which have gradually expanded over the past decades. He said that Belgium has always emphasized the importance of trade and investment and people-to-people contacts. He said that the bilateral trade between Belgium and Pakistan has more than doubled over the last decades that can be supplemented through joint efforts. He said that both the countries should identify more areas for cooperation and should also introduce more tradable items to enhance mutual trade volume. Pakistan should take full advantage of best geographical position of Belgium in European Union. He said that there should be more interaction between the business communities of the two countries to enhance trade and economic cooperation. Pakistan is the beneficiary of GSP Plus Status and should avail full benefit from this facility. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that both the countries have been steady trading partners. Belgium comes simultaneously at 6th place among the top importing as well as exporting countries in European Union.

He said that two way trade which peaked in 2016 upon reaching 1.22 billion dollars but subsided gradually to 979 million dollars in 2018. From 2017 to 2018, there were dips observed both in exports and imports figures between Pakistan and Belgium. Pakistan’s exports to Belgium went down from 701 million dollars to 666 million dollars while the imports decreased from 366 million dollars to 313 million dollars. He said that both countries need to make joint efforts to reverse this trend especially targeting to take the level of bilateral trade to at least 2 billion dollars. Pakistan has been experiencing favourable balance of trade with Belgium. He said that there are better prospects of increasing trade and investment relations on the basis of GSP plus status awarded to Pakistan by the European Union Commission. “We must find ways to enhance the current level of trade through identifying more items of trade”, he said. He added that there are good prospects for undertaking joint venture projects in Pakistan with the help of Belgian experience and technical know-how in the fields of agro food processing, chemicals, surgical instruments, paper and paperboard, dairy, fertilizers and many more. Ali Hussam Asghar said that bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Belgium has decreased which should be focused immediately.