Enhancing Pakistan-Canada trade ties

| March 22, 2016 | 0 Comments
Gawadar is Pakistan’s deep-sea port. (Photo: Edgar Jiménez)

Gawadar is Pakistan’s deep-sea port. (Photo: Edgar Jiménez)

Pakistan is emerging as a trading nation, in part because of its location at the crossroads of South Asia, China, Central Asia, West Asia and the Indian Ocean. With its liberal pro-investment policies, Pakistan has a rapidly growing economy with a highly skilled and moderately priced workforce. “Trade not aid” has been the mantra of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.
Pakistan’s economy has shown resilience, with 5.7 percent GDP growth for 2015, according to The Economist in January 2016. Based on a strong structural reforms program, the GDP is projected to reach six-percent-plus growth in the coming years. The country is deepening its economic ties with partner states from the Pacific to the Atlantic. A well-regulated banking system, independent judiciary and IT-enabled economy have been instrumental in helping foreigners do business in Pakistan and in attracting foreign investment to the world’s seventh most populous market, with approximately 200 million consumers. Pakistan’s investment policy 2013 offers equal treatment to local and foreign investors. Its special economic zones have a tax holiday for 10 years, duty-free imports of capital goods and allow captive power generation (a power plant that provides localized energy to its user rather than to a general grid.)
Branded textiles, world-renowned Basmati rice, Pakistani mangoes, surgical equipment, carpets, leather, sporting goods and footballs used in the World Cup, are just a few of Pakistan’s famous exports.
The top five export destinations in 2015 for Pakistani goods and services were the European Union (EU), U.S., China, Afghanistan and U.A.E. Pakistan’s five leading import partners last year included China, the EU, U.A.E., Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.
Pakistan and Canada traditionally enjoy friendly relations and close co-operation in development, people-to-people contacts and regional security. However, our economic ties have yet to reach their potential. According to Statistics Canada, bilateral merchandise trade alone, excluding trade in services, topped the $1 billion mark in 2015, a 49-percent increase from 2014. Pakistan’s exports were valued at more than $350 million and Canadian exports totalled $690 million.
Pakistan’s exports to Canada were textiles, leather goods, vegetable products, plastic products, garments, carpets, surgical goods, sports gear, food products, base metals, medical equipment, pearls, gemstones and jewelry, mineral products, head and footwear and ceramic products. Pakistan’s imports from Canada were vegetable products (colza seeds, also known as rapeseed, soya beans, chickpeas and lentils), mechanical and electrical equipment, wood products, chemical or allied industries’ products and transport equipment.
Pakistan’s exporters are faced with cumbersome visa formalities for attending trade fairs in Canada. Similarly, travel advisories discourage Canadian businesspeople from visiting Pakistan. The Canadian authorities have been approached to  revisit the travel advisory and business visa regime to facilitate deeper bilateral economic engagement between the private sectors of both countries. The bordering region with Afghanistan, where operations against terrorists are taking place, makes up only four to six percent of the total area of Pakistan. Major business centres such as Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot and Karachi are peaceful. Four direct flights operate from Pakistan to Canada each week. About 500,000 hard-working Pakistani diaspora are contributing to Canada’s economy and society.
The recent rise in the number of Canadian business people working with Pakistan is encouraging. Canada’s SNC-Lavalin, AECOM, Hatch, Group RSW, AXOR, International Sovereign Energy and Enerflex have contributed to development projects in Pakistan. Likewise, Pakistani business people attend the SIAL Food and Construct Canada exhibitions in Canada.
Oil rigs and mining equipment are needed to exploit Pakistan’s vast natural resources. Canada could make profitable investment in the oil, gas and minerals exploration, information technology, infrastructure, power generation, agro-business and science and technology sectors. Canadian investment in Pakistan is a meagre $20 million. Canadian business can also benefit from Pakistan’s IT-enabled services in animation and gaming, retail banking and finance, mobile content, document management and call centres. A number of multinationals have established themselves in Pakistan because it’s a competitive offshore destination in cost and quality.
A Pakistan-Canada joint working group (JWG) to enhance bilateral co-operation in economic relations was established in 2008. The high commission is working on organizing the next round of JWG meetings. We are also vigorously pursuing a bilateral draft promotion and mutual protection of investment agreement.
The high commission and Pakistan’s consulates in Toronto, Montreal and
Vancouver are focused on enhancing bilateral trade and investment, flow of technology and institutional linkages and would be happy to answer your business queries. Greater awareness is being created about Pakistan’s export products, its major trade fairs and lucrative investment opportunities.

Tariq Azim Khan is Pakistan’s high
commissioner. Reach him at
pahicottawa@mofa.gov.pk or call 613-238-7881.

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Category: Diplomatica

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Tariq Azim Khan is Pakistan’s high commissioner. Reach him at pahicottawa@mofa.gov.pk or call 613-238-7881.

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