LAHORE       -     Ambassador of European Union to Pakistan Androulla Kaminara has stressed the need of improving indicators of ease of doing business to encourage foreign investment in Pakistan.

Talking to office bearers during her visit to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and industry on Tuesday, she said “Pakistan needs to produce products which are competitive in EU market.” LCCI President Irfan Iqbal presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar also spoke on the occasion. LCCI Executive Committee members Haji Asif Sehar and Yasir Khursheed were also present.

The Ambassador said, “We are ready to help Pakistan to expand its exports to European Union and would like to be its partner in this regard.” She said that European Union and Pakistan have signed the Strategic Engagement Plan in June this year to further boost their relations in diverse fields. She said that increase in Pakistan’s exports was because of duty free access to products under GSP Plus. She said that GSP Plus reviews annually on performance therefore Pakistan should ensure implementation of all conventions under this status. She pledged that the EU would continue engaging partners, including Pakistan, to address the common challenge of climate change through a multilateral approach.

She said that know-how about trade and investment opportunities was essential and exchange of sector specific trade delegation could play a vital role in this regard. She said that EU was focusing on digitalization, climate change and immigration in particular. She said that special focus to the vocational training would ensure provision of skilled human resources to the industry.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that Pakistan and EU have strong trade relations. “EU is Pakistan’s most important trading partner and accounts for about 18% of total trade volume and around 33% total exports. It is encouraging to see that overall trade figures are following upward trends”, he said.

He said that from 2016 to 2018, the volume of trade went up from 11.7 billion dollars to 13.46 billion dollars. Pakistan’s exports to the EU showed good improvement and increased from 6.9 billion dollar to 8 billion dollars during this period. The imports from EU also followed the same trend and reached 5.5 billion dollars in 2018 as compared to 4.8 billion dollars in 2016. Pakistan’s exports are heavily dominated by textiles which account for more than 75% of exports to EU. There is a need for greater product diversity in Pakistan’s exports to EU. There potential areas where Pakistan could enhance its exports to EU are leather products, furniture, carpets, plastics, sports goods and rice. He said that destination of 71% of total exports to EU are five countries namely UK, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. “We look forward to finding more and more opportunities of market penetration in other countries like Greece, Slovenia and Ireland where export are relatively much low”, he said.

Ali Hussam Asghar said that LCCI has declared ongoing year as the year of exports. He urged EU to encourage joint ventures and support Pakistan for increase in exports. He said that sector-specific delegations should be encouraged. LCCI would encourage export-oriented trade delegations and guidance of EU would help Pakistan to meet its targets.