Pakistani industrialists seek new trade ties
13 Aug 2017 - 0:15
By Irfan Bukhari / The Peninsula
DOHA: A delegation of Pakistani businessmen and industrialists is visiting Qatar to explore new grounds for building new trade partnerships while some companies are keen to invest in Qatar’s pharmaceutical sector.
The delegation, led by Zubair F. Tufail, President of The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), yesterday had meetings with officials of Hassad Food and Qatar Investment Authority while today they are set to visit Qatar Chamber.
“There are two prime objectives of our visit; to increase Pakistani exports to Qatar and encourage Qatari investments in Pakistan,” said Tufail while talking to The Peninsula. He said that the meetings of the delegation with Hassad Food and Qatar Investment Authority were very productive that will “open new avenues of long-term trade relations” between two countries.
He said that two food companies from Pakistan including ‘Big Bird’ and K&Ns were already exporting frozen chicken products to Qatar at a limited scale. “We want to increase the level of exports and Qatari authorities too are welcoming it,” he added.
FPCCI President said that some pharmaceutical manufacturing companies of Pakistan also wanted to establish their production units in Qatar from where they could cater to the needs of whole MENA region with “Made-in-Qatar” stamp which would earn more credibility for their products.
On efforts aimed at promoting Qatari investments in Pakistan, Tufail said that the Qatar Investment Authority had asked the visiting delegation to propose big projects only. “They have asked us to come up with proposals of big projects requiring substantial capital like $100 to 200 million as they are not interested in small projects,” he added.
He said that Qatari investors could confidently invest in steel mills, food processing units with bright prospects of “good results”. “We will provide them prefeasibility on these projects soon to make things move forward.”
Tufail said that increase in business between two sides was the need of the hour. “Pakistan can export fresh meat, chicken and dairy products through air cargo or via maritime lines in short time and at competitive prices. Two Pakistani companies are already exporting frozen chicken to Qatar. Pakistan must fully avail new window of export,” he noted.
FPCCI president said that the delegation would visit Qatar Chamber on Monday (today). Terming Qataris ‘good business people’, he said that Pakistani companies were not facing any procedural difficulties in doing business with Qatar. “Personally I am importing petro chemicals from Qatar for the last 15 years and I have not met any problems,” he said.
He also said that the ambassador of Qatar to Pakistan had assured the FPCCI that a new mechanism would soon be devised for fast track visa issuance to the business community of Pakistan.
Muhammad Adrees, Chairman and CEO of Sitara Chemical Industries said that the future of bilateral trade primarily depended on close coordination and frequent exchange of delegations between two countries. “Qatar is now more open and willing to develop new trade relations and also welcoming investments.”
“Pakistan has the capability to export medicines, textile, construction material to Qatar,” he said, emphasizing on the need of fast-track visa policy for Pakistani business community from Qatar’s side. Adrees noted that Qatari investors could set up food processing plants in Pakistan which had tremendous business potential.
Not only Pakistani business community has set targets to give a “much-awaited” boost to Pakistani exports to Qatar but there also exist such companies which are keen to invest in Qatar.
M. Jawed Akhai, Chairman of Martin Dow Pharmaceuticals, the company having one production unit in Pakistan and two in France, told The Peninsula that he wanted to establish a pharmaceutical production unit in Qatar.
Lauding “Own a factory in Qatar within 72 hours” initiative of Qatar launched under “Single Window Project”, Akhai said that he was unaware of the initiative therefore could not get his company registered before the deadline “but the authorities concerned have allowed us to get registered by next Thursday”.
As the pharmaceutical industry is highly-regulated and tech-requiring, Akhai thinks with his experience of running two high-tech production units in France, he would be able to meet the criteria set by Qatari authorities. “Though Qatar’s population is limited but our company can cater to bigger need of the whole region,” he noted. He said that the removal of local-partner condition would boost investment in Qatar.
Dr. Mustafa Kamal, Managing Director of Big Bird Foods said that his company which was already exporting frozen chicken to Qatar in “trial phase” would soon be exporting regular supplies to Lulu and other hypermarkets of Qatar.
He said that ‘Big Bird’ was exporting frozen chicken to Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China and Taiwan. “Earlier we were dispatching one shipment per week to Qatar then we took to two then to three per week and soon Big Bird’s chicken supply to Qatar will become uninterrupted,” he added.