Business-to-Business (B2B) contacts are a must to increase bilateral trade between Pakistan and Brunei Darussalam. The Chambers of Commerce and Industry of the both countries should expedite relations to achieve the desired results.
These views were expressed by the High Commissioner of Brunei Darussalam Dato Mahmud Saidin while talking to the LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The LCCI Vice-President Syed Mahmood Ghaznavi and Executive Committee Members were also present on the occasion.
The High Commissioner said that Pakistan and Brunei Darussalam would have to make joint efforts to strengthen their economic ties, as despite having excellent relations, volume of mutual trade is very small. He said that his country also attaches importance to Pakistan being one of its brothers and an economic partner. He said that investors from Brunei would certainly like to take benefit of huge potential in Pakistan. He said that Pakistani entrepreneurs could initiate joint venture with the counterparts in Brunei Darussalam in various sectors. It is high time for the joint business ventures as the business community in Brunei Darussalam is quite impressed with the Pakistan’s growth.
He said that the exchange of trade delegations between the two countries would definitely help boost the volume of bilateral trade and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry should arrange a visit as early as possible. The LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz in his address said that that Pakistan has got special place due to fully facilitating Brunei under defence cooperation agreements. Both countries have common perception about harmony and peace. He said that Pakistan and Brunei Darussalam are members of OIC and maintain cordial diplomatic relations based on historical affiliation. However, the bilateral trade figures hardly reflect these relations.
The total worth of Pakistan exports to Brunei in 2013 was just dollar 0.4 million that increased to dollar 0.7 million in 2014. The major items of exports are aluminum tables, fruits and vegetables, fresh and frozen fish and rice etc. Similarly Pakistan’s imports from Brunei are virtually negligible, Ijaz A. Mumtaz added. The LCCI President said that Brunei Darussalam is a small country and its economy heavily depends on exports of crude oil and natural gas. He said that out of total exports of Brunei, petroleum based products have the share of more than 90%. Secondly, nearby countries like Malaysia, Singapore and China etc. are major importing countries to Brunei, which fulfill more than 50% of other requirements. Ijaz A. Mumtaz said Pakistan is a producer of finest quality of textiles items, surgical goods, sports goods, leather products, carpets and rugs etc. Brunei Darussalam 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 etc. and can also enter into joint ventures with Pakistani counterparts, the LCCI President said. He said that it is right time to invest in Pakistan owing to Pakistan’s economic performance and investment friendly policies of the government.
There is no limit on foreign equity and one can freely transfer capital, profits and dividends to their country. Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that Brunei has sufficient capital and further plans to widen the economic base beyond oil and gas.
Pakistan can help Brunei through cooperation agreements that can include sharing of knowledge and technical knowhow, supplies of labor force, machinery and raw materials etc. He proposed that there should be active collaboration among the Chambers of Commerce and Industry of both the countries. He 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.