Pakistan envoy identifies trade potentials between the two nations
With 65 years of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Pakistan, there is much hope from the latter’s government to strengthen trade relations between the two nations.
With much market potential seen in the Asia-Pacific, particularly the Philippines, Pakistani Ambassador Safdar Hayat identifies the sectors of pharmaceuticals, agriculture and textiles as some of the sectors both countries can initially pursue together.
“One of my main goals when I arrived in the Philippines is to further diversify and intensify relations between our countries,” the Pakistani ambassador emphasized when he met with The Manila Times executives and reporters at a roundtable interview in December 2014.
Since taking on his post in the first quarter of 2014, Hayat had observed that not enough attention is given to business potentials between the Philippines and Pakistan.
“First thing I noticed is that there is somehow lack of focus from both sides. Businessmen here are not focused on Pakistan, in the same way that Pakistani businessmen are not focused on the Philippines,” he began.
“Part of my goals is to bring back that focus, starting by sharing information on each other’s markets. One of my proposals is to exchange trade missions so we can learn more about the local business and how we can help each other.”
Hayat is very enthusiastic and optimistic in this priority, and already efforts have been made with Pakistani businessmen that visited the Philippines in August 2014 to meet with their counterparts and discuss possibilities in business development and partnerships.
From the said meetings, the ambassador hopes that the Philippine Chamber of Commerce will respond positively and pursue the Pakistan contingents’ interest and willingness to invest in the Philippines.
“In trade relations between our countries, it is the private sector that has to take a lead, and the role of the government is to guide them so they can pursue these meetings. They need to meet each other on a regular basis, because a gap of a year or two can hamper the growth in trade relations,” Ambassador Hayat said.
He further believes that trade exhibitions are very effective in initiating partnerships. He shared that a Pakistani businessman who attended the Manila Fame design and lifestyle exhibit was inspired to set up shop in the Philippines with his leather products of belts, wallets and shoes, as well as garments.
In terms of pharmaceuticals, he highlighted that Pakistan is a major exporter and producer of quality and affordable medicines worldwide. He hopes that in time, the current $2 million Pakistani export of medicines to the Philippines will increase because it will be advantageous to both countries.
Noting that almost 90 percent of medicine found in the country are imported, the ambassador explained, “In Pakistan, pharmaceutical manufacturers are already making 50 to 100 percent profit, so our medicine is really affordable.
“Imagine how much more they can make, and how much this market can save, if these exports increase. I am already in the process of meeting stakeholders,” Hayat optimistically reported.
Besides medicines, the Pakistani envoy informed The Manila Times that his country is also an expert in the production of surgical instruments, producing quality products that are even exported to European Union member countries.
As for agriculture, the ambassador enthused, “Cooperation between our two countries will help us learn from each other’s experience in this sector. Pakistan is an agricultural country with a lot of ongoing research through established institutes for research and development. We can share scholarships, trainings, as well as expand and develop new sectors for trade.”
With the upcoming Asean integration, and with emerging markets found within the region, Pakistan has expressed a keen interest to take part in the business potentials identified in the Philippines. Ambassador Hayat further related that his country is working towards a vision to enhance relations within the East Asia union.
“In the last 10 years, we have tried to upgrade relations with countries in the Asean. We are a member of the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), and we are actively working to strengthen our ties,” he concluded.