Tremendous opportunities under GSP Plus should not be missed: Dutch Ambassador

Ambassador of the Netherlands Ms. Jeannette Seppen has stressed that the GSP plus granted by European Union offers tremendous opportunities to Pakistan and the Netherlands which should not be missed. “We can only encourage Pakistani traders to work closely with the government and all other stakeholders in the field of trade to ensure that all 27 conventions attached to GSP Plus are really implemented. It is Pakistan, itself, that has signed up to it which shows Pakistan’s determination and we are also here to help”, she added while exchanging views during her visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, Senior Vice Chairman BMG Anjum Nisar, President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, Senior Vice President KCCI Asif Nisar, Vice President KCCI Muhammad Younus Soomro, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Sub-Committee Altaf A. Ghaffar, Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz and KCCI Managing Committee members were also present on the occasion.

Dutch Ambassador further said, “Some well reputable international and Dutch NGOs are also here to support Pakistan when it comes to women rights, when it comes to freedom of expression and a number of other issues, particularly the labor rights and labor condition which is an issue that is very close to our hearts.”

She underscored the need to make collective efforts to raise Pakistan’s image abroad and make this country an even more attractive market to buy from.

Highlighting the Dutch interest in different sectors, she pointed out that there was a tremendous potential to enhance trade and investment cooperation and work together in the agriculture, dairy, livestock, horticulture, shipping, ports, maritime infrastructure, water management and the energy sector. “These are a few fields where Pakistan and Netherlands can grow a lot together, a lot is already going on and a lot more can be done, which is our firm conviction”, she added.

She said that Netherlands was very serious in enhancing trade ties with the business and industrial community of Karachi as Karachi and Netherlands were perhaps, at first sight, very different entities, but they are not that different. Many Dutch multinational companies including shipping companies were successfully operating from Karachi who have been the fantastic ambassadors of Netherlands whereas Dutch dredgers were also engaged in carrying out dredging at the Port Qasim. “Our ties go way back and there is a bright future ahead of us as we find ourselves in a very favorable environment”, she added.

Jeannette Seppen said that in spite of some pessimism, trade balance between Pakistan and the Netherlands remains ‘very positive’ which, in the current economic circumstances, is really ‘remarkable’. “It has definitely not gone unnoticed that the security situation in Pakistan, particularly in Karachi, has improved considerably and, fortunately, what we see is that the situation continues to improve”, she noted, adding that of course, there were challenges but the environment was very positive as lots of work was going on in different areas including the ease of doing business.

Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Siraj Kassam Teli, while commenting on current Pakistan-Netherlands trade ties, stressed that these ties should improve further and must get better which can be done through more collaborations and more exchanges of delegations. “The more we learn about each other, will certainly prove beneficial for both the countries. If you think that Karachi Chamber can help in achieving this goal of creating a trade friendly environment, we would love to do”, he added.

He said that Netherlands was popular for its dairy products and it was heartening to note that some Dutch companies were efficiently working in the cattle farming businesses in Punjab and Sindh. “I am sure there is a lot we can do, which has to be done”, he added.

Chairman BMG further advised the Dutch Ambassador to set some targets with particular focus on raising the existing trade volume during her tenure in Pakistan by work collectively with Karachi Chamber which would prove beneficial for both the countries.

Highlighting some salient features of Karachi, Siraj Teli informed the Dutch Ambassador that Karachi is the largest city of Pakistan with a population of over 21 million and the city was spread over a huge land of 3,500 square kilometers. “Karachi is the business and industrial hub of Pakistan as over 16,000 industries are operating from all seven industrial zones whereas the two major ports are also functioning from this city”, Siraj Teli said, “We are in all types of businesses. You name any business, and it’s here in Karachi. Everything moves to the rest of the country from this city which contributes over 65 percent revenue to the national exchequer.”

Briefing the Ambassador about the overall functioning of Karachi Chamber and the 19 years of Businessmen Group’s relentless services from KCCI’s platform, Siraj Teli said that Karachi Chamber tries its level best to help Karachiites and the business and industrial community in resolving issues by maintaining liaison with all three tiers of the government i.e. the federal, provincial and local governments.

He said, “Businessmen Group has been constantly winning KCCI’s elections since last 19 years whereas the elections held during the last consecutive 10 years were won unopposed by the Group, which enjoys the overwhelming support of the entire business and industrial community only because of its clear policy of ‘Public Service'”

“At KCCI, we try to bring in the best people from the business and industrial community to run the Chamber with a single intention to do something for the Karachiites”, he added.

He said that Karachi Chamber is the largest Chamber of Pakistan and its strength can be gauged from the fact that even if the memberships of all 43 chambers across Pakistan were consolidated, the combined figure will not be equivalent to the membership base of Karachi Chamber, which makes it the most vibrant Chamber of the most vibrant city.

President KCCI Shamim Ahmed Firpo, in his welcome remarks, said that Pakistan and Netherlands have been enjoying good trade relations as Pakistan’s export to Netherlands, during fiscal year 2015-16, was recorded at $555 million while its imports from Netherlands stood at $619 million. “I believe there is a need to make more efforts for furthering the existing trade volume between the two friendly countries”, he opined.

In order enhance bilateral trade, President KCCI suggested that both countries have to explore opportunities of collaboration in different sectors of the economy. Pakistan is the 6th largest producer of mangoes in the world and Pakistani mangoes are increasingly becoming popular in the Dutch market. Thus, potential exists for Pakistani exporters to expand their share in the Dutch and European markets.

“Moreover, Netherlands is an advanced economy with technology and expertise in solar, wind, coal and bio-mass power generation which can help in dealing with the energy crisis”, he said, adding that potential also exists for Dutch investments in energy saving, shipping, ports development, water purification, dairy farming agriculture etc. to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

Shamim Firpo was of the opinion that Pakistan can reap rich economic benefits by improving collaboration with Netherlands in the field of software exports as the Netherlands is a global hub for innovation and high tech value added products.

In the end, he also invited the Dutch companies to participate in 14th My Karachi – Oasis of Harmony Exhibition scheduled to be organized in the month of April next year which will provide an excellent opportunity to the Dutch business and industrial community to showcase their products and create strong linkages with their counterparts in Karachi.

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