Thai-Pakistan FTA on cards: Envoy

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LAHORE, July 18 (APP): Thailand and Pakistan are holding talks on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), which is likely to be signed by the end of this year.

Thailand Ambassador Suchart Liengsaengthong disclosed this in a meeting with LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Former LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Nauman Kabir, Executive Committee Members Amjad Ali Jawa, Mian Abdul Razzaq, Raja Adeel Ashfaq, Asad Noor Paganwala, Sheikh Muhammad Ibrahim, Shahzad Ahmed, Tariq Mahmood and others were also present.

The Ambassador said that trade would flourish after signing of the FTA between the two countries. He said that such tools are important in today’s world as these bring down cost of doing business and remove the non-tariff barriers. He said that Thailand is already investing in Pakistan while more Thai companies are keen to start their operations here.

He said that a high-level business delegation from Thailand would visit Pakistan in the first week of August. The delegation would have people from cosmetics, construction, automobile, plastic, consumer goods, furniture, seafood and private hospitals in its fold.

He invited the LCCI to arrange a trade delegation for Thailand to explore trade, investment and joint venture opportunities.

He said that textile and tourism sectors of Pakistan are vibrant. He said that Pakistan could learn a lot from Thailand in tourism sector.

He said that Pakistani products should be introduced in Thai market more effectively. He said that Thailand and Pakistan should join hands to give new strengths to their trade and economic ties. Both countries with dynamic consumer markets, have unlimited scope for the businessmen of the two countries.

LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed said that Thailand and Pakistan established diplomatic ties back in 1951 and both countries have been enjoying steady economic and trade relations. Although, Pakistan faces unfavourable balance of trade with Thailand but consistent rise in bilateral trade is a positive sign.

He said that among the top exporting countries for Pakistan, Thailand comes at 34th place and with regard to top importing countries, the same is ranked at 12th place.

The LCCI vice president said that at present, there is an increasing trend in imports and exports between the two countries but we would like to enhance the volume of our exports to Thailand.

He said that from 2013 to 2015, our bilateral trade increased from $833 million to 973 million. This expansion was largely caused due to considerable change in imports which swelled from $716 million to $853 million. However, Pakistan’s export could only scaled up from $117 million to $120 million in this period.

“We would like to see the possibilities as to how we can give boost to our exports to Thailand with the help and support of Thai embassy,” he said.

The LCCI vice president said that Pakistan is already exporting frozen fish, woven cotton fabrics, crustaceans, cotton yarns, leather, medicament mixtures and electro-medical apparatus etc. to Thailand but our potential to export to Thailand is far more diversified and sizeable than the current one. He said that this objective can be achieved through bridging communication gap between respective private sectors.

The VP said that business community want to develop close linkages among the business support organizations for ensuring continuity in our mutual efforts to increase the volume of trade between two countries. Trade fairs & single country exhibitions can also be arranged on reciprocal basis to achieve this goal.

Nasir Saeed said that Pakistan also offers lot of opportunities for foreign investors through 100 enterprises of their own or in the form of joint ventures with Pakistani counterparts. It is a gateway to the oil and mineral resources rich Central Asian Republics and also a member of SAARC which together make up a market of 1.5 billion people. It is also close to the Gulf countries and African horn. Any investment made in Pakistan will find market in these countries, he concluded.