'B2B contacts a must to expedite Pakistan-Brunei trade' (Daily Times (Pakistan))

The Brunei high commissioner on Friday has said that business-to-business (B2B) contacts were important to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Brunei, adding that the chambers of commerce and industry of both countries should expedite relations to achieve the desired results.Brunei High Commissioner Dato Mahmud Saidin expressed these views while talking to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Ijaz A Mumtaz at his office. LCCI Vice President Mahmood Ghaznavi and executive committee members were also present.

The high commissioner said that Pakistan and Brunei would have to make joint efforts to strengthen their economic ties, as despite having excellent relations, the volume of mutual trade is very small.He said that his country views Pakistan as one of its brothers and economic partner, adding that the investors from Brunei would certainly like to take benefit of huge potential in Pakistan.

He said that the Pakistani entrepreneurs could initiate joint venture with their Brunei counterparts in various sectors. It is high time for the joint business ventures, as the business community in Brunei is quite impressed with the Pakistan’s growth, he added.

He said that the exchange of trade delegations between the two countries would definitely boost the volume of bilateral trade and the LCCI should arrange a visit to Brunei as early as possible.The LCCI President Ijaz A Mumtaz, in his address, said that Pakistan has got special place to fully facilitate Brunei under the defence cooperation agreements, adding that both countries have common perception about harmony and peace.

He said that Pakistan and Brunei are members of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and maintain cordial diplomatic relations based on historical affiliation. However, the bilateral trade figures hardly reflect these relations, he added.He said, The total worth of Pakistan exports to Brunei in 2013 was just $0.4 million that increased to $0.7 million in 2014. The major items of exports are aluminium tables, fruits and vegetables, fresh and frozen fish and rice. Similarly, Pakistan’s imports from Brunei are virtually negligible.

The LCCI president said that Brunei is a small country and its economy heavily depends on the exports of crude oil and natural gas. He said out of total exports of Brunei, petroleum based products have a share of more than 90%. Secondly, nearby countries like Malaysia, Singapore and China are major importing countries to Brunei that fulfil more than 50% of other requirements.Mumtaz said Pakistan is a producer of finest quality of textiles items, surgical goods, sports goods, leather products, carpets and rugs and Brunei should consider importing such commodities from Pakistan.

There is a lot of scope for Brunei to make investment in Pakistan. Brunei can make direct investment in Pakistan in sectors like infrastructure, banking, insurance, oil and gas, automobiles, construction and hotel industries. They can also enter into joint ventures with Pakistani counterparts, the LCCI president added.

He said that it is the right time to invest in Pakistan owing to the country’s economic performance and investment friendly policies of the government.Mumtaz said that Brunei has sufficient capital and plans to further widen the economic base beyond oil and gas, adding that Pakistan could help Brunei through cooperation agreements that could include sharing of knowledge and technical know-how, supplies of labour force, machinery and raw materials.He proposed that there should be active collaboration among the chambers of commerce and industry of both the countries and stressed the need to initiate a consultative process for enhancing bilateral trade and investment. We should try to explore the possible ways to take benefit from each other’s strengths, he added.

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