The president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry said negotiations to sign a Pak-Gulf Cooperation Council Free Trade Agreement are at an “advanced stage.”
A Saudi business delegation’s week-long visit to Pakistan has created new opportunities for collaboration and partnership trade agreement are expected to be signed in several sectors, a senior Saudi diplomat said on Tuesday.
The Saudi-Pak Business Council led by Fahad Bin Muhammad Al-Bash arrived in Pakistan on June 20th to explore potential investments and joint ventures.
During their week-long stay, the 15-member delegation visited Islamabad, Lahore, Sialkot, Faisalabad, and Karachi. They met with representatives from various chambers of commerce and the board of investment, and conducted business-to-business meetings in each city. The delegation also visited factories in Sialkot, Faisalabad, and Karachi before flying back to Saudi Arabia on June 27th.
After the conclusion of the visit, the president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, said in a statement that negotiations to sign a Pak-GCC FTA were at an “advanced stage.”
“Pakistan should target IT & IT-enabled services exports to Saudi Arabia; along with skilled workforce in Information and Communication Technologies (ICT),” Sheikh said in a statement released by the FPCCI.
The Saudi delegation plans to ask the Saudi government to establish a Pak-Saudi investment body to streamline collaborations between businessmen from both countries, according to Dahar. This could lead to billions of dollars in additional orders for value-added textiles, leather products, footwear, handicrafts, sports goods, pharmaceuticals, surgical goods, gems & jewellery, rice, fruits & vegetables and construction materials from Saudi Arabia annually.
According to Mubsher Alshehri, a commercial attaché at the Saudi embassy in Islamabad, various partnership agreements are expected to be concluded soon in sectors such as FinTech, paints, renewable energy, construction, livestock, rice, and feed production.
Muhammad Idrees, the president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), stated that the visit has changed the Saudi perception of the business landscape in Pakistan, with Karachi, in particular, appearing as a more favorable investment destination.
Fayyaz Ahmed, vice president of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Saudi businessmen had expressed interest in the textile and paint industry.
Al-Bash, chairman of the Saudi-Pak Business Council, was quoted in an FPCCI statement as inviting proposals from the Pakistani business community for the development of projects of mutual interest.
After the COVID-19 pandemic, which was a major obstacle to people-to-people, business-to-business and chamber-to-chamber contact between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both sides have agreed on regular contact and single-country trade fairs and exhibitions.
Junaid Makda, Chairman of the Pak-Saudi Arabia Joint Business Council of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI), requested Saudi authorities to facilitate Pakistani businessmen with swift visa processing and simpler documentation requirements for exports to the kingdom.