KARACHI: In response to Karachi Chamber’s concerns expressed over the closure of Iraqi Consulate in Karachi, Charge d’ Affaires at the Embassy of Iraq in Pakistan Abdulsalam Saddam Mohaisen informed that Iraq is looking forward to reopening its Consulate in Karachi very soon which will be providing all visa related services to the citizens of the port city.
Exchanging views with President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, Senior Vice President Arshad Islam and KCCI Managing Committee Members at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the diplomat said that Pakistan, particularly Karachi, is a very important and safe place for Iraqi businessmen and investors who can collaborate with their counterparts in numerous sectors of the economy for the promotion of trade between the two countries.
He was of the opinion that Pakistani producers and manufacturers have been producing many high-quality products that can be exported to Iraq as there is a good demand for Pakistani products. “Due to lack of information, the Iraqi businessmen are unaware of the quality, availability, and prices of Pakistani products. Although Pakistan produces many high-quality products including agricultural products, furniture, agricultural products, fresh fruits, and vegetables, etc. but a very little amount was being exported to Iraq mainly due to unawareness about the wide range of products available at very competitive prices in Pakistan hence, the Iraqi importers are importing all such products from India, China, Iran, Turkey, and some other countries”, he added.
He said that in order to improve the meager trade volume between the two brotherly countries, there is a need to exchange trade delegations and encourage business-to-business meetings which would surely yield positive results. Responding to a query, he clarified that there was no restriction on the import of rice from Pakistan while many food items and Pakistani cement were also being smoothly exported to Iraq.
While extending full support and cooperation, he stressed that the business and industrial community of Karachi must look into the possibility of enhancing trade ties with the Iraqi business community. Any obstacles affecting trade between the two countries will have to be taken up and resolved by the governments of Iraq and Pakistan on priority in order to pave way for improved trade and investment ties between the two brotherly countries.
Earlier, President KCCI Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while welcoming the Iraqi diplomat, pointed out that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Iraq is on minimal levels. In 2018, Pakistan’s exports to Iraq equaled $23.71 million as compared with $22.11 million in 2017, showing an increase of 7.2 percent. On the other hand, imports by Pakistan from Iraq were $49.61 million in 2018 as compared with $70.29 million in 2017, indicating a decrease of 29.4 percent.
He was of the opinion that there was a significant potential to enhance trade and investment between the two countries. Cordial diplomacy and enhanced bilateral relations can help each other prosper resulting in a win-win situation for both countries. “There is significant potential for Iraq under CPEC as a stepping stone for China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Special Economic Zones being set up under CPEC provided an ideal opportunity for Iraq’s investors to consider Pakistan for investments and joint ventures, particularly in the food sector”, he added.
He further opined that Iraq can enhance economic cooperation with Pakistan by virtue of investments as vast prospects of investment lies in industry, livestock, energy, agriculture, and information technology while the Halal Food industry also holds great potential for enhancing bilateral trade.
Agha Shahab stressed that governments on both sides should play an active role in promoting cross country entrepreneurship. In this regard, he extended the full support and cooperation of the Karachi Chamber for all the initiatives taken to promote trade and investment ties between the two countries.
He further requested the Iraqi Embassy to disseminate information about KCCI’s My Karachi Exhibition amongst Iraqi business community so that a business delegation from Iraq could participate in forthcoming My Karachi Exhibition scheduled to be organized this year in the month of April at Karachi Expo Center where around one million visitors throng into the Expo Center during all three days of the exhibition. It will not only be a perfect platform for understanding the Pakistani retail market but also an ideal place for Business to Business meetings and networking.