By Kazim Alam, The Express Tribune
KARACHI: The local gentry rubbed shoulders with British diplomats and British-Pakistani businesspersons on Thursday evening, at a reception hosted by British Deputy High Commissioner Francis Campbell in honour of a visiting delegation from the UK to the 7th Expo Pakistan 2012.
After a brief speech by the deputy high commissioner highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of the Pakistani diaspora in Great Britain, representatives of Karachi’s business community exchanged views with visiting delegates over drinks in an informal setting.
“Pakistan presents numerous significant opportunities for investment; aimed both at using Pakistan as an export base, and at tapping into an emerging market with a rapidly growing middle class,” Campbell said.
Speaking to journalists, Manchester-based Muhammad Hamid Ali – who serves as commercial secretary of the Pakistan High Commission in the UK – said that bilateral trade between both countries was steadily rising due to focused efforts to achieve a target of £2.5 billion by 2015.
“The recent duty waiver on 75 products from Pakistan, extended by the European Union, will encourage British businesses to buy goods from Pakistan,” he said; adding that rebates would be allowed on shipments of these goods for the current year, from January 1 to December 31.
Ali added that the revised Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)-Plus will come into effect from January 1, 2013, under which the minimum EU import threshold had been increased from 1% to 2%. The revision means that countries whose share in total imports of the EU is less than 2% can apply for zero duty access under this scheme. Pakistan’s share in total EU imports is between 1% and 2%: therefore, the revision will directly benefit Pakistani businesses that export to the EU.
Pakistan’s exports to the UK in 2011 were worth $1.2 billion, representing a share of 5% in the country’s total exports for that year. While the UK’s net imports have decreased during recent years, its imports from Pakistan have actually increased by an annual average of 7% since 2007.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 6, 2012.