Colombo, January 12 (newsin.asia): “Pakistan is not what one sees on CNN” said the country’s Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, in a video message on the opening day of the Third Pakistan Single Country Exhibition here on Friday.
Inviting Sri Lankan businessmen and entrepreneur to trade with and invest in “Emerging Pakistan” Abbasi said that Pakistan is hardly like the way it is projected in the Western media, a place torn by terrorism and violence.
“Pakistan has won the largest war against terror with a lot of courage and sacrifice,” he declared and asserted that it has registered a growth rate of 5% and is aiming at a 6 to 7% growth with a high level of foreign investment.
“There is not a single case of a foreign investment in Pakistan which has not made money,” Abbasi said adding that Pakistan has the highest consumer growth rate in the world – 8.3%.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp, in the presence of a distinguishing gathering of invitees including Sri Lankan cabinet Ministers Sarath Amunugama, Arjuna Ranatunga, Champika Ranawaka and Rishad Bathiudeen, and the Pakistan Minister of Commerce Pervaiz Malik. The Sri Lankan President visited the exhibition but did not speak at the inauguration.
Prime Minister Abbasi said that Pakistan is a country of 207 million people which has a middle class of 100 million. The latter are aspirational and with disposable income to make the country one of the best markets in the world for goods and services.
“Pakistan is a vibrant democracy with a vibrant press and its foreign investment policies are liberal, apolitical, non-partisan and consistent,” the Prime Minister said.
“We welcome and encourage foreign investment,“ he added.
Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce, Mohammad Pervaiz Malik urged businessmen and entrepreneurs from Sri Lanka and Pakistan to hold consultations and make the fullest use of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
Malik regretted that despite the existence of the FTA covering thousands of items, bilateral trade is only about US$ 350 million. In 2016, a target of US$ 1 billion was set and he felt that it is achievable with investment opportunities in Pakistan going to increase manifold with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) coming up and Sri Lanka growing 6% per annum.
But for this to happen entrepreneurs and traders from the two countries should meet and interact with each other and exhibitions with B2B meetings should help.
The Sri Lankan Minister of Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen said that he is hopeful of achieving the target of US$ 1 billion in bilateral trade, looking at the rate at which trade is growing.
While in 2016, bilateral trade was US$ 368 million, in the first half of 2017 it had notched up US$ 250 million, he noted. The eight MoUs signed should also help boost trade.
The High Commissioner of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat, said that since 2016, when the first edition of the single country exhibition was held, interest in the event has increased in Pakistan. This year it has attracted 134 companies.
Sri Lankan business should be able to exploit opportunities in Pakistan as CPEC is to spur growth to notch 7% per annum in two years’ time.
The envoy further said the single country exhibition is to become an annual event.
The Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), in association with the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka, is organizing the third edition of Pakistan Single Country Exhibition from January 12 to 14.
The exhibition features leading Pakistani companies and manufacturers of Engineering Products, Auto Parts, Agro Products, Textile & Clothing, Designer Wear, Handicraft & Traditional Textiles, Pharmaceuticals, Cutlery, Furniture, Carpets, Marble and Services.
(The featured image at the top is that of the Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbbasi)