- YASIR HABIB | 11 hours ago
LAHORE – Government is at full stretch to deepen trade ties with South Africa, the rising star in global economy – especially when juxtaposed with other African countries. Minister of State for Finance and Economic Affairs has been asked to prepare a roadmap to increase trade volume between the two countries. Pakistan- South Africa trade currently stands at more than $450 million.
Sources in diplomatic circles revealed that government had special focus on South Africa while exploring new avenues of business opportunities, which could in return unleash a chain of investment in Pakistan.
Sources said that development made headway into the directions issued by President Asif Ali Zardari during his interaction with then SA high commissioner Mohammed Rida El-Fassi at Aiwan-e-Sadr some months back. The meeting was also attended by 11 ambassadors and high commissioners of African countries. During the meeting, the president underlined need for enhancing trade relations with South Africa and other African countries to realise their real potential keeping in view the vast population of the African continent and the market opportunities available there.
He also suggested creation of a small caucus representing African embassies in Islamabad and relevant officers of the ministries for suggesting ways and means to move forward on further improving trade and commercial ties. Leadership of various chamber of commerce and industries has also endorsed government’s action plan in South Africa. Majority of them said that South Africa and other African countries could greatly benefit from Pakistan’s experience and expertise in the fields of infrastructure development, agriculture, banking and information technology. They said Pakistan’s education sector, particularly professional institutes, provides excellent opportunities and venues to students belonging to the African countries to learn modern sciences and arts and that there is a need to strengthen and enhance existing exchanges in this area.
In another major development to solidify relations with South Africa, an 8-member delegation of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) made a successful business tour of South Africa in March, 2011 writing a new page in the history of Pakistan’s trade and economic relations with South Africa. The delegation came with a handful of business orders and signings of a number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU). LCCI delegation, headed by then LCCI Executive Committee Member Dr Shahid Raza, received a warm welcome by their counterparts and officials of Pakistani missions. In South Africa, LCCI delegation was given a detailed briefing by IntegriFin Business on launching business in Johannesburg. Business meetings with South African counterparts were held at the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Neren Rau gave a presentation on investment opportunities in South Africa. LCCI delegates also had a meeting with South African counterparts at Trade Commissioner’s office at Johannesburg, while Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Pretoria Zaigham Uddin Azam arranged a lunch where upcoming trade events in South Africa were discussed.
Greater Boksburg Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Willi Riedel gave a brief introduction about the chamber and discussed business opportunities in Boksburg, South Africa.
MoUs were signed between LCCI, Eastern Cape Development Corporation and Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber to enhance trade relations. Meetings took place with Cape Town Chamber of Commerce Vice President Hanns Bohle and Arifa Parker spoke on business opportunities. In UAE, MOU was signed between LCCI and Pakistan Business Council Dubai, while orders worth more than Rs10 million were received from different companies.
SEMINAR AT QAU
Meanwhile a seminar ‘Pakistan South Africa Relations: exploring opportunities for collaboration’ unanimously was held at History Department of Quaid-i-Azam University in collaboration with QAU Alumni Association. The speakers agreed that both the nations need to work closely to strengthen economic, political, and social ties for the benefit of the two countries.
While addressing the seminar, speakers said that South Africa and Pakistan established full diplomatic relations in 1994 and both countries joined other nations in pursuing a policy of peaceful co-existence and multilateral decision making and conflict resolution. He said both the countries are enjoying cordial bilateral relations that offer an enormous potential for enhancing mutual annual trade volume more than 500 million. Major items of exports from Pakistan to South Africa included cotton yarn, woven fabrics, leather, rice and textiles, they said.
On relation with South Africa and other African countries, Senate Foreign Affairs Committee documented a report that Pakistan and African countries have had close ties before and during the colonial days. Pakistan always morally supported South Africa and other African countries in their liberation struggles.
The report said that a proactive policy would require interaction between the parliaments of Pakistan and South Africa coupled with constituting friendship groups for South Africa in the parliament.
“Moreover, Pakistan should pursue an aggressive economic diplomacy so as to reap the abundant financial benefits as well as investment opportunities that exist in South Africa, Pakistan Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry should penetrate the markets of South Africa and exploit the business opportunities that exist in those countries,” the report disclosed. “We should work together so that globalisation would not become a new colonialism in disguise. In this historic endeavour we must develop a common mechanism of self-help and mutual dependence, be they economic or political,” the report said.
Document said that vision had been elaborated in the Declaration on the New Asian African Strategic Partnership signed in Bandung on April 24, 2005. In this document, that rededicates our adherence and commitment once more to the Bandung spirit of 1955, emphasis is put on continent –wide inter-regional cooperation between Asia and Africa. Furthermore, it is stated that cooperation between sub-regional organisations, through sharing experiences could propel growth and sustainable development.
It recommended a number of steps to promote Pak-SA relations that include that regular exchange of visits among South Africa and Pakistani exhibitions and seminars on trade promotion should be encouraged. This will facilitate identification of areas where mutual trade and investments are feasible. Similarly, exchange of visits of the top executive functionaries usually has tremendous impact in cementing relations.
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