UK is keen to invest in agriculture, renewable energy, green infrastructure and education sectors of Pakistan, said British High Commission Deputy Director for Trade Olivia Campbell.

Speaking during her visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Tuesday, she highlighted that Pakistan was a huge emerging market and British businessmen were ready to deepen trade and economic ties with their Pakistani counterparts.

“A modest number of UK companies are already operating in Pakistan, which is ample proof that the UK recognises Pakistan as a potential market,” she said.

Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah invited British businessmen to invest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), terming it a game changer.

He stressed that it was the perfect time for overseas businessmen to invest in Gwadar. Pakistan’s business community attached great value to good working relations with the British High Commission for the sake of strengthening bilateral ties further, he said.

“UK is one of Pakistan’s major trading partners and also ranks among its top export destinations,” the LCCI chief said. “However, the bilateral trade volume has dropped over the last two years.”

Citing figures, he said trade value fell from $2.6 billion in 2018 to $2.4 billion in 2019. During the period, he lamented, Pakistan’s exports to the UK fell from $869 million to $701 million and imports contracted from $1.74 billion to $1.68 billion.

“We are quite optimistic about reversing the declining trend while keeping in view the latest developments concerning Brexit,” Misbah said. “Since the UK has always been in favour of granting market access to Pakistan, we expect deeper penetration into the UK market in the foreseeable future.”

According to him, pharmaceutical, leather, surgical instrument, renewable energy, retail, agriculture, IT and value added textile are the potential areas for forming joint ventures between business communities of Pakistan and the UK.

Misbah highlighted that the UK imported sizable quantity of textile, leather, furniture, paper, plastic and footwear from China and urged the nation to enhance imports of these items from Pakistan, which had immense export potential in those areas.

“Similarly, the UK imports considerable volume of textiles and pharmaceuticals from India,” he said. “These sectors are blossoming in Pakistan as well and the country has great potential to enhance their exports to the UK.”

He added that Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were being established all across the country under CPEC and they would have all the necessities.

“SEZs are open for foreign investors and they will be fully facilitated by the government in setting up their industrial units in Pakistan or collaborating with local companies for forming joint ventures,” he assured the envoy.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2021.

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