RAWALPINDI - Frederic Verheyden, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Belgium, visited the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) on Tuesday. 

He was accompanied by Trade Commissioner Abid M Hussain and Trade and Commercial Officer Shaukat Nawaz Niazi (from the Embassy of Belgium) while RCCI Acting President Saqib Rafeeq, former senior vice president Raja Amer Iqbal, Secretary General Irfan Manan, members of the executive committee and a large number of traders and industrialists were also present on the occasion.

In his address, the Belgian envoy said that his country’s embassy was weighing the prospects for sending a trade mission to Pakistan for exploring new avenues of business relations between Belgium and Pakistan. He stressed that Pakistan should think beyond conventional products to improve trade with Belgium, and private sector of Pakistan should accelerate its efforts to expand the sphere of cooperation with Belgium.

He opined that many Pakistani products had the potential to find good market in Belgium, and added, “Belgium is cooperating with Pakistan in different sectors like energy, infrastructure, dairy, poultry.”

The ambassador said Pakistan’s image was improving; however, it has to create a promising environment by addressing energy, infrastructure, security and other issues to attract the Belgian investors for joint ventures. Frederic said China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would serve as a key driver of Pakistan’s economy by giving Chinese goods access to the Arabian Sea and beyond.

He assured his full cooperation to the chamber for strengthening the trade relations between the two countries.

In his welcome address, Acting President Saqib Rafeeq said that Belgium was the fifth largest trade partner of Pakistan, within the European Union, but the bilateral trade of around $884 million was insufficient, keeping in view the available potential the two countries had.

He asked both the countries to fully cooperate with the private sector of their countries for taking volume of the two-way trade over $2 billion.

He said Belgium should cooperate with Pakistan in improving value chain.

“Textile products, cereals, cotton, leather and sports goods are the exportable items,” Saqib said, and urged the envoy to improve the exports volume in these sectors.

“We import iron, machinery, electronic, chemicals and pharmaceuticals from Belgium, but we want a technology transfer for these sectors,” he demanded.

Saqib further suggested that Belgium expertise in information technology, dairy farming, energy and infrastructure sectors were much needed in Pakistan.

He underlined the need for the exchange of trade delegations to get benefit out of the existing opportunities.

“Single country exhibitions can also be a great source of introducing products in each other’s markets,” he said.

RCCI acting president made a demand for Belgium Information Desk in RCCI where members can get informational catalogues and brochures.

He also invited the envoy to send Belgian companies’ representatives to the upcoming international trade and expo conference, being organised by RCCI in August this year.