French Embassy, LCCI vow to expand trade ties

LAHORE: Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and French Embassy on Tuesday renewed the pledge to further enhance cooperation and expand bilateral Trade relations through exchange of sector-specific business delegations.

The consensus was developed at a meeting between LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari and French Economic Consul Eric Noitakis here at LCCI, where the former LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman, former SVP Malik Tahir Javaid, Executive Committee Members Mian Maqsood Butt, Muhammad Aslam Chaudhry, former EC member Rehmatullah Javed and Vice President Pakistan-France Business Alliance Shaukat Hassan were also present.

The French diplomat urged the LCCI President to constitute a sector-specific business delegation to France at the earliest so that Pakistani businessmen could have first hand knowledge about available opportunities. He said that a delegation of French businessmen would also visit Pakistan next year to interact with their counterparts in this resourceful country.

A joint commission for economic co-operation had also been established to further expand the volume of two way trade and strengthen economic ties, he said, adding that under this commission, both the countries would develop a framework for closer economic and investment links to strengthen mutual relationship. He said Pakistan had huge potential for investment and a large number of companies were already working in the country by investing huge amount.

Eric Noitakis assured that France would continue its financial and technical assistance to Pakistan to overcome its energy crisis which was a key issue as far as economic activities were concerned.

While, Sohail Lashari said Pakistan and France shared cordial diplomatic and economic ties, and there had been frequent high-level contacts between the two sides dating back to 60’s. French multinationals had been able to find the favourable environment for long-term investment in Pakistan, he said, citing that brand names like Total, Alcatel and LU etc. had found acceptance in the Pakistani market on the basis of strength of their products.

He urged the visiting diplomat to invite more French companies to start business ventures in Pakistan that offered vast trade and investment potential. “We jointly need to identify possible areas of investment,” he said.

Pakistan exports comprise bed & kitchen linens, menswear, articles of apparel & clothing, electro-medical apparatus, women’s suits, electric appliances, footwear, cotton waste, carpets, rice, leather goods and etc. Pakistan’s imports from France are petroleum oils, aircraft parts, medicament mixtures, taps & valves, surveying instruments, organo-sulphur compounds, electric appliances, natural milk products and etc.

In 2011, the two way trade went as high as US$ 902.5 million but next year it dropped to US$ 782.9 million. “If we notice the decline in total imports and exports of France in the same year, then this negative change does not make us worry about it,” he maintained.

The LCCI President said that this scenario did call for widening the scope of current trade inventory, and it could be done through organizing catalogue exhibitions, exchanges of delegations, organizing single country exhibitions, and country weeks on reciprocal basis.

There was a vast scope of joint venture in the field of pharmaceuticals, food processing, mining, oil and gas. Joint venture opportunities also exist in the field of high technology that includes telecommunication, chemicals and automobiles, he mentioned.

French equipment and technologies, he said, could smartly help exploit Pakistan’s full potential in agriculture, horticulture, dairy, livestock and food processing sectors.

In order to further expand commercial and economic ties, it was necessary that both countries had access to each other?s markets and this would definitely lead both sides to a more strengthened and stable economic partnership. “Pakistan is not only a huge market but also a gateway to landlocked Central Asian countries,” Lashari said and stressed the need for exchange of business delegations between the two sides to explore new avenues of mutual co-operation and to further strengthen Pak-French economic relations.

Quality of Pakistani products was far better than others and the prices were also very competitive, therefore, France must pay some special attention towards Pakistan, he concluded.