By Asad Cheema
ISLAMABAD: Ambassador-designate of Pakistan to Ukraine, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Dr. Noel Israel Khokhar visited the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) on Thursday and was given warm welcome by President Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan and other office bearers of the Chamber.
During the discussion, Maj. Gen. (Retd) Dr. Noel Israel Khokhar informed that Pakistan has great potential to increase bilateral trade with Ukraine and urged that the business community should leverage this potential to promote countryâ€™s exports. He said that by developing close cooperation with Ukraine, Pakistan could get easy access to the huge Central Asian market.
He said that Pakistan has good defence cooperation and trade in defence products with Ukraine, but there was a great need to promote Pakistanâ€™s traditional and non-traditional products to Central Asia through Ukraine for improving exports.
The Ambassador-designate said that he would try to bring a high level trade delegation from Ukraine to Pakistan to promote direct connectivity between the private sectors of both countries and explore new avenues of bilateral cooperation. He said that he would look into the possibility of having a display centre for Pakistani products in Ukraine to introduce their export potential in Ukrainian market. He assured that he would facilitate the Pakistani business community in their pursuits to explore business opportunities and JVs in Ukraine.
Speaking at the occasion, President ICCI Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan said that promoting exports was the best option for Pakistan to reduce its trade and current account deficits and emphasized that the government should extend maximum facilitation to the private sector in exploring new export markets. He said that the government should reduce duties on import of industrial machinery that would help in upgrading the domestic industry in order to improve its competitiveness and produce value added products for exports promotion.
President ICCI said that Pakistan has great potential for tourism and attracting foreign tourists to Pakistan would lead to increase in trade and exports, therefore, he emphasized that the government should reduce taxes and duties on imports meant for the tourism industry to facilitate in improving the tourism infrastructure in the country. He further said that the government should establish a one window facility for investors and make conducive business policies that would help in stabilizing the economy.
Senior Vice President Ms. Fatmia Azim and Vice President ICCI Abdul Rehman Khan said that the Pakistan Embassy in Ukraine should identify the demand for Pakistani products in the Ukrainian market and share such information with Chambers of Commerce in Pakistan so that private sector could make efforts to exploit them for increasing exports with Ukraine.
Muhammad Eajz Abbasi former President ICCI said that government should focus on ease of doing business that would improve the economy and strengthen the defence of the country as well. Nasir Qureshi, Sheikh Pervez, Aslam Khokhar, Usman Khalid, M. Shakeel Munir, Javed Iqbal, Raja Hassan Akhtar, Ch. Ashraf Farzand, Khalid Chaudhry and others also spoke at the occasion and gave useful suggestions for promoting Pakistan-Ukraine bilateral trade relations.