Ambassador of Tunisia Borhene El Kamel Wednesday invited Pakistani businesspeople to join hands with their Tunisian counterparts and explore trade and investment opportunities in his country.
He was talking to businesspeople here at Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. LCCI President Kashif Anwar, Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood, Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt and Honorary Consul of Tunisia Mohammad Hameed also spoke. The ambassador said that Tunisia was a gateway to the European Union (EU) countries and African markets and the Lahore Chamber should plan a business delegation to Tunisia to explore business opportunities in Tunisian and African markets. He said that direct interaction between private sectors of Pakistan and Tunisia was the key to explore all potential areas of mutual cooperation and visit of the LCCI delegation to Tunisia would be a right step in that direction. He assured that his embassy would facilitate Pakistani businessmen in B2B [business to business] meetings to make their visit successful.
He said that Tunisia had signed the preferential trade agreements (PTAs) with many countries of the region and close cooperation of Pakistan with it would help it get easy access to Africa, EU, Middle East countries for exports. He said that Pakistan could also re-export its products to the other countries from Tunisia. “We are looking forward to develop business relations with Pakistan as both countries are enjoying good political relations,” he said and added that the good relations between the two countries should also be reflected in mutual trade.
The ambassador said that both countries have potential to set up joint ventures in various sectors. He said that Tunisia largely exports fertilizers and used cloths and imports rice, cotton and textile products to and from Pakistan. He said that 80 per cent exports of Tunisia were to the EU market while 20 per cent are to North America, Africa, Asian countries, China and Japan. He said that though the population of Tunisia is small but it is a lucrative market. He said, “We are working practically to make visa issuance easy for the businessmen.”
LCCI President Kashif Anwar said that Pakistan and Tunisia were bound by strong ties of friendship and Islamic brotherhood, manifested in common perceptions and cooperation on various international and regional issues of mutual concern. He said that these ties were hardly reflected in bilateral trade that was still below even $20 million. He said that there were bright prospects for a Preferential Trade Agreement between Pakistan and Tunisia as it would certainly help in expanding the volume of bilateral trade. Right now there were heavy duties applied by Tunisian Government on imported items, especially value added textiles. Once that PTA was signed it would open up new avenues for both countries for expanding bilateral trade.
LCCI President said that Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood would lead the delegation to Tunisia. Senior Vice President Chaudhry Zafar Mahmood said that he had visited Tunisia four times and he was also General Secretary of Tunisia Pakistan Business Association. He said that the businessmen can visit Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria on a single visa. It is corner of Europe and 30 minutes visage from Malta. He hoped that the volume of two-way trade would be strengthen in the coming days. LCCI Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt called for exchanging trade delegations and organizing trade exhibitions for knowing more about the dynamics of each other’s markets and facilitating business matchmaking.
Meanwhile, Borhene El Kamal, ambassador of Tunisia, and the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leadership Wednesday agreed to strengthen efforts to enhance bilateral trade relations in the larger interest of the two countries.