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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Germany to help Pakistan explore more avenues for business: envoy

MULTAN: German Ambassador Ina Lepel has said that Germany has financially supported major hydro-power projects and up-gradation of distribution system in Pakistan to resolve its energy crisis. “Pakistan-German Renewable Energy Forum will open soon for business,” she said addressing the executive committee of MCCI chaired by Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi. She said her country, being a major trade partner of Pakistan in the European market, will continue to extend its diplomatic and political support to help explore more avenues for bilateral business. 

“Pakistan should not take GSP plus preferences for granted, as the country would have to comply with 27 international conventions that are related to human rights, governance and labour standards,” she cautioned. 

Ina Lepel said GSP+ was a key driver for promoting bilateral trade between Pakistan and Germany. She said that Germany was one of the important trade partners of Pakistan and several German companies were working in different trade fields in Pakistan. 

“Our two countries have potential to increase the trade volume and we must carve out ways and means to exploit the available potential,” She urged citing that with duty-free access to EU, Pak-German trade volume had reached US$2.24 billion last year with positive growth of 18%. She said that in the first half of current fiscal year, the bilateral trade witnessed 6% growth. She said that Germany was exploring ways to help Pakistani business community to fully avail the opportunity. She said that in order to further strengthen business institutions, Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, was established, which would further improve bilateral trade and economic relations. 

“The GPCCI is a prime example of the energy of Pakistan’s business community. It is an important milestone,” she said, adding that she was convinced that the GPCCI could make an important contribution to promote bilateral trade and investment and increase Pakistan’s connectivity. The ambassador said that Germany was currently focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency in Pakistan including consultancy for individual enterprises on energy conservation in their production processes. GIZ is working in different sectors of economy to enhance the productivity and the working conditions to further improve the quality and quantity of exportable surplus from Pakistan, she said. 

“Pakistan remittance which was only 8 million dollars has gone above 19 million dollars. Our inflation rate is less than 4% and GDP is 4.2 now,” she said expressing certainty that it would reach up to 5, this year. 

Ina Lepel said that German business community is eager to grow and a German business delegation, along with the deputy foreign minister of the country, had already visited Pakistan last June. She said that another delegation would come to Pakistan during the second half of this year to explore new avenues of mutual cooperation. She said Germany’s trade figures with Bangladesh, Thailand and Malaysia were much larger, and the Pakistani businessmen should make more efforts to promote trade with Germany. She said Germany was one of the major donors for the TVET reform programme in Pakistan aimed at providing young people with the skills and competence required by local and foreign employers. 

“Another programme at the factory level is aimed at enhancing the productivity and improving the labour standards, which could give Pakistani companies an edge in the European markets as the European consumers are willing to pay more for the products produced according to the international standards,” she disclosed. 

“German embassy is working with the Pakistani business community to strengthen the German-Pakistan business institutions, and Pakistan-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been granted license which will further improve bilateral trade and economic relations between the two countries,” he said. 

President of Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Khawaja Jalaluddin Roomi said that given the market size of Pakistan and Germany, bilateral trade of $2.4 billion was not up to the real potential of the two countries, and there was a huge need for diversifying the two-way trade by focusing on more products. 

“Keeping in view the importance of CPEC for the investors, it is high time that more German companies and investors should explore investment and joint ventures in Pakistan in general and South Punjab in particular,” he urged. 

He further said that Germany had always supported Pakistan in getting greater market access to EU. He expressed hope Germany would continue to promote Pakistan’s business and economic interests in the European markets. He pointed out that South Punjab with a population of 40 million people was an investor-friendly zone of Pakistan and would welcome enhanced German investments especially in renewable energy and automotive industry. He said that Pakistan had one of the largest student communities in Germany with about 3,500 students. Upon this, the ambassador said Germany was one of the major donors for the TVET reform programme in Pakistan to provide young people with the skills and competence required by local and foreign employers. 



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