by Imran Ali Kundi
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has offered its goods and services to Qatar, which is going to host the FIFA World Cup 2022.
“As Qatar is preparing to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, substantial scope exists for procurement of goods and services from Pakistan,” said Federal Minister for Commerce and Textile Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman while addressing Qatar-Pakistan Business Conference.
Pakistan has offered supply of footballs and sports equipment, construction materials, home textile and quality furniture to hotel industry, food products and skilled labour force to Qatar for the next football World Cup.
“Pakistan also wished to pursue ‘bilateral trade agreement’ with Qatar and invited them to invest in agriculture, food processing, LNG and petrochemical industry in Pakistan. Similarly, Gwadar Port Authority can offer excellent opportunity for trance-shipment to Qatar. The government of Pakistan desires long and historic relationship between Pakistan and Qatar and this relationship should be translated into enhanced trade and sustainable partnership,” the minister added.
Mian Misbah said Pakistan’s exports to Qatar have shown an increase of 80 percent in 2017-18 but in value terms, it was only an increase of US$37 million. “Due to import of LNG, trade deficit of Pakistan with Qatar has increased to US$1.6 billion as imports have enhanced by 47 percent in the year 2017-18 as compared to 2016-17, which indicates that Qatar’s benefit is far better than us.”
He said Pakistan has also asked Qatar to address the issue of granting work visas to Pakistani workers, who are continuously facing problems in getting Qatar visas. “Pakistan has requested Qatar to give level-playing field to Pakistani rice through the central tendering committee, which is affecting bilateral trade.”
The minister suggested to form a joint working group on trade and investment for regular interaction. “It is government’s job to provide trade facilities and business conducive environment while it is private sector players, who are true engines of growth for international trade and investment,” he said and hoped that the conference would provide driving force to promote Business to Business (B2B) interactions and public-private partnerships between the two counties.
Qatar Minister of Economy and Commerce Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani said that the joint trade and investment relationship between the two countries has improved since 2012. “Currently, there are 851 companies jointly owned by Pakistanis and Qataris operating in Qatar in various fields of economy,” he added. He was optimistic that the business conference would pave way for many mutual agreements that would be beneficial for both the countries.
Sheikh said Qatar had to suffer challenges including illegal blockade that was imposed on it in 2016, however, it has come out of it safely. “Qatar is open to Pakistani investors, who will be welcomed to invest in different sectors, particularly in Hamad Sea Port.”