KARACHI: Thailand’s Acting Consul General Paoyee Waesahmae said the trade balance between Pakistan and Thailand is in favor of Thailand, which can be balanced if the difficulties are effectively addressed by the Pakistani government, especially the delays in the signing of the Pakistan-Thailand Free Trade Agreement. Trade agreement pending for many years.
During an exchange of views at a meeting of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the envoy said that the negotiations for the finalization and conclusion of the Pakistan-Thailand FTA have suffered. delays due to restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now that the situation has improved, it was high time to conclude this important FTA which would certainly benefit both countries.
“KCCI, being a major player, must push the government to accelerate the FTA between the two countries,” he added.
He said bilateral trade was in good shape but would improve further if Karachi’s trade and industry community focused more on improving ties with their Thai counterparts. “We are ready to cooperate fully with businessmen intending to strengthen their ties with Thai businessmen, but in order to achieve the desired goal, it was very essential for Pakistani businessmen to know the Thai people and understand their culture so that they can accordingly provide Pakistani products to Thai market as needed, ”he added.
He said that although Thai delegations have been brought to Pakistan and they also regularly participate in KCCI’s My Karachi exhibition, all such trade promotion activities remain completely suspended since the outbreak of the pandemic.
In addition, a large number of Thai tourists regularly visited the northern regions of Pakistan every year, while around 90,000 Pakistani tourists also traveled to Thailand before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the overall tourism activity has gone horribly. suffered from the pandemic, he said.
“We hope that the situation will normalize soon so that we can conduct business activities together and work collectively to increase bilateral trade.”
He also advised the Pakistani authorities to focus on improving the tourism infrastructure in order to increase the number of Thai tourists, as it has been observed that Thai tourists face many problems during their tour of Pakistan, mainly due to lack of basic facilities.
President KCCI Muhammad Idrees informed that Pakistan and Thailand have good bilateral trade relations, but they have suffered greatly from COVID-19 as in 2020 Pakistan’s exports to Thailand fell by 44.57% to $ 141.53 million from $ 255.37 million in 2019. Similarly, Pakistan’s imports from Thailand also fell to $ 966.6 million in 2020 from $ 1,175.69 million in 2019 , a decrease of 17.78%.
He noted that the trade balance remained in favor of Thailand at $ 825.06 million in 2020, which needs to be balanced by facilitating links between the business communities of Pakistan and Thailand.
He noted that Thailand has a number of high value-added industries such as agro-industry, food processing and automobile production. Pakistan, by organizing joint ventures in these areas, can develop these industries together. Pakistan can be a gateway to enter South Asia and Central Asia for Thailand.
In addition, there is enormous potential for collaboration in the fields of trade, culture, infrastructure development, science and technology, defense, education and religious tourism, in addition to explore the possibility of improving Pakistan’s seafood exports to Thailand, he added.
President KCCI further assured his full support and cooperation to the Thai Consulate in Karachi for all its efforts to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries. He also advised Acting CG to explore the possibility of encouraging Thai universities to establish their campuses in Karachi through joint ventures with local universities.
KCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Rehman Naqi, KCCI Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain, Thailand Honorary Business Advisor Arif Suleman and KCCI Management Committee members attended the meeting.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021