Trade cannot be one way; Pakistan needs to focus on improving exports to Switzerland: Envoy

KARACHI: Ambassador of Switzerland Bénédict de Cerjat has said that although trade balance between Pakistan and Switzerland was largely in favor of his country but the trade cannot be one way as it works well when everybody earns profits therefore, Pakistan needs to focus more on improving its exports to Switzerland.

“Although it is not my job to increase Pakistan’s exports to Switzerland as it is purely the role of Pakistan’s Ambassador yet I can help and contribute because at the end of the day, if you export more textiles, we will also be able to export more Swiss machinery that would not only improve your productivity but also create a win-win situation for both the friendly countries”, he added while exchanging views at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).

President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President KCCI M. Saqib Goodluck, Vice President KCCI Shamsul Islam Khan, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Junaid Mundia, Former President KCCI Majyd Aziz and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present on the occasion.

Swiss Ambassador said, “Even though we have very good numbers in terms of investment and I hope it will continue to be the case but we don’t have good numbers in trade which needs to be focused.”

He noted that the performance of Pakistan’s textiles sector was quite interesting. “If Pakistan is doing so well in the textiles sector, Switzerland can provide excellent textile machineries which would prove favorable for both of us.”

He said that the visit to KCCI was very important to him as it represents Karachi which was the economic and financial hub of the country while Pakistan, with a population of 220 million which was twice the population of Switzerland, can offer a number of trade and investment opportunities to Swiss companies. “We are already here and it was surprising to see that Switzerland over the past 10 years has been the fourth largest foreign direct investor in Pakistan.

He was of the opinion that countries around the world have been suffering because of COVID situation and hoping for a reset to normal economic life however, Pakistan’s economic performance has been relatively well as compared to many other countries where the growth rate has descended all the way down to even minus 10 percent.

In response to a query about closure of Swiss Consulate in Karachi, the Ambassador said, “Although the Swiss Consulate in Karachi was closed two years ago due to fiscal reasons but a very vibrant platform of Swiss Business Council was available in Karachi which is doing good work and even, I rely a lot on the figures being released by them.”

Earlier, President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra, while welcoming the Swiss Ambassador, pointed out that Pakistan and Switzerland share cordial and healthy bilateral relations based on cooperation in different economic spheres.  “In 2019, Pakistan’s exports to Switzerland amounted to $169.98 million while the imports stood at $376.31 million. The trade was heavily in favor of Switzerland with a trade surplus of $206.32 million in 2019 necessitating Pakistan to find new avenues for enhancing its exports”, he added.

He said that potential exists for Swiss businessmen to further invest in Pakistan on 100 percent equity basis or as joint ventures with local industries while Pakistan can greatly benefit from Swiss expertise in energy sector, mining, agriculture, and equity market.

President KCCI particularly mentioned that there was also a possibility of cooperation in supplying raw materials and finished products for fertilizers, chemicals, and pharmaceutical industry in Pakistan while handicrafts, shoes, precious stones and metals were also considered to be sectors important for enhancing Pakistan’s export to Switzerland.

“We want to promote and do everything for the development of Pakistan–Switzerland business cooperation”, he emphasized, adding that collective efforts have to be made from both sides to enhance linkages between the Karachi Chamber and it peer chambers in Switzerland in order to pave way for improved trade relations between the two countries.

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