Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industries and Investment Abdul Razaq Dawood has said that Pakistan wants to double its trade with African countries in the next five years to increasing bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Addressing Pakistan-Africa trade development conference in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, he said that this gathering is an important initiative to bring together businessmen from Africa under one roof to explore and open up new frontiers for enhancing trade.
The adviser said that this conference will synergize efforts to capitalize upon economic opportunities and is a testimony of Islamabad’s strong commitment to enhancing trade and economic cooperation with Africa. In 2018, Africa’s annual global trade was $1.075 trillion.
On the other hand, Pakistan-Africa trade has remained stagnant at a meagre $3 billion for many years, he said, adding that it only crossed $4 billion during the last two years, reaching $4.28 billion in 2018-19 which still is a fraction of the total trade.
Abdul Razaq Dawood said that with a collective Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $2.45 trillion in 2018 and a projected to be 4.1 percent in 2020 and it’s time for the world to acknowledge this robust economic performance.
Until now, Africa has been a distant frontier for Pakistan economically. The adviser said that it well below its true potential and also does not reflect the warm cultural and social ties. “It’s time to unlock the true potential of our trade relations.”
Regional cooperation also needs to enhance trade and connectivity is the key to socio-economic uplift and development, he said. “There is huge potential of trade between Pakistan and Africa but we need to enhance connectivity with Africa,” he said.
TRADE AND CONNECTIVITY
“I have a strong belief that trade and connectivity are two sides of the same coin and it is not possible to have one without the other.” He informed the gathering that logistics and transport affect trading activities because they determine shipping times, costs of handling, and delivery of goods.
On the other hand, reduction of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers by both the side, is also necessary which acts as a catalyst for accelerated growth in bilateral trade. He said that given the concrete opportunities that exist between the two sides, Pakistan-Africa trade could easily be increased manifolds in coming years.
Kenya being the longstanding friend and an important trading partner, offers the best platform for the same. He urged that this august forum to accept this challenge and work together to achieve it. He said that time has come to translate the excellent bilateral relations into mutually beneficial economic gains.
The Ministry of Commerce has formulated the Look Africa Policy Initiative which has already been put into motion and this is reflective of our broader policy towards Africa. “We need to exchange more manufactured and processed goods, have more knowledge transfer, and create more value,” the adviser said.
Both the sides need to accelerate export diversification and product sophistication and make trade more inclusive, he said. He also said that this will enable them to shift from an over dependence on commodities to higher-value added products and services.
FRIENDS IN AFRICA
“It will also build resilience to movements in demand and help in fetching better prices. This is the fastest path to economic growth, job creation and poverty reduction.” He said that increasing Pakistan’s footprint in Africa the government have posting more trade envoys.
In this regard, the government in Islamabad are opening six new trade wings at Pakistan’s embassies in Africa. He said that these include Algeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Senegal, Sudan and Tanzania. This has increased the number to 10. They would also be granted accreditations to cover the whole continent.
He said that Pakistan is open to discuss all proposals by friends in Africa at bilateral and multilateral level. “We are already in touch with SACU, ECOWAS and EAC to negotiate trade agreements and also plan to take advantage of the opportunities that exists under the African continental Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
The adviser said that Pakistan can supply rice, engineering goods, electrical appliances, textiles, apparel, pharmaceuticals, sports goods, surgical instruments, cutlery, furniture and many more products. Similarly, Pakistan can be a good market for supply by the African exporters.