Besides an export destination, Belgium can also act as a transit hub for Pakistani exports to Europe, said Belgian Ambassador to Pakistan Philippe Bronchain.

In a meeting with the business community at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday, he advised Pakistani businessmen to ensure their presence at a global level instead of being limited to a particular region. “Pakistani exporters should establish warehouses and display centers in Belgium to enhance access to EU member countries,” he said. “The GSP Plus status to Pakistan is under review and it is subject to the implementation of conventions.”

Bronchain said that Brussels tightened visa policy due to Covid-19 and it would be relaxed according to the situation. Welcoming the envoy, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that Belgium enjoyed a key position in the European and international economy.

Citing that diplomatic relations between the two nations were cordial, he added that both countries were steady trading partners. “Pakistan has favourable balance of trade with Belgium and the country ranks among the top importing and exporting destinations for Pakistan within the European Union,” he said.

Presenting figures, he said that the value of bilateral trade during fiscal year 2019-20 was $824 million. This number soared past $1 billion in 2020-21 due to rise in both imports and exports between the two countries, he said.

Kabir highlighted that during the period under review, Pakistan’s exports to Belgium increased from $517 million to $588 million while its imports surged from $307 million to $420 million.

Similarly, Pakistan’s exports to Belgium during the first four months of the current fiscal year stood at $228 million and imports were recorded at $171 million, he noted.

“Hopefully by the end of this financial year, we will succeed in achieving better trade figures,” he said. “We need to make joint efforts to lift bilateral trade to at least $2 billion.” 

The LCCI president said that major exports of Pakistan to Belgium comprised textile products, rice, leather, tobacco and copper.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s imports from the European country included pharmaceutical products, articles of plastics, machinery and organic chemicals.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2021.

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