KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Mohammed Tariq Yousuf has stressed the need to gear up Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in addition to reviving Pak-Korea Joint Trade Committee to exploit existing opportunities and enhance bilateral trade and economic integration in the manufacturing, hydropower sector, SME, finance, transport and education sectors.

“I am confident that Pakistan-Korea FTA would pave way for good trade relations and open up new dimensions and investment channels”, he added while speaking as Chief Guest of Korea Pakistan Business Forum 2023 organized here in a local hotel on Wednesday.

Ambassador of the Republic of Korea Suh Sangpyo, Director General of Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) Kim Sung Jae, Consul General Korea Yi Sunghu, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Haris Agar, President Automotive KIA Pakistan Muhammad Faisal, KCCI Managing Committee Members and prominent Korean businessmen in Pakistan were also present on the occasion.

President KCCI noted that despite strong bilateral economic relationships, Pakistan’s exports to Korea stood at only $206 million in FY22 as compared to $170 million in FY21. “Pakistan’s average monthly exports to Korea remained at a meagre $23 million during the last 18 years which was mainly because of the fact that Pakistani goods face higher tariffs as compared to their competitors”, he said, adding that many Pakistani products including marble & granite, pharmaceuticals, cement, leather, rice and sports goods can find a good market in Korea, which the country can import from Pakistan.

Tariq Yousuf mentioned that despite Pakistan’s ongoing economic challenges, various corporate results in the stock market remained phenomenal in 2022. In addition to this, top multinational companies operating in Pakistan have also posted massive growth which clearly indicates Pakistan’s economic resilience, he added while referring to impressive profitability witnessed by ICBC Pakistan, Unilever Foods Pakistan, Nestle Pakistan, Philip Morris Pakistan, Standard Chartered Pakistan and Pakistan Tobacco.

While appreciating several Korean companies including Lotte Pakistan, Hyundai Motor Group and Samsung etc., he urged them to further enhance their production activities so that Pakistan’s overall industrial output could improve.

Commenting on South Korea’s “New Village Movement” which has become a global model for poverty eradication, he said that Pakistan’s agriculture sector holds 20 percent share of GDP, and over 50 percent population live in rural areas. “Korean companies can help Pakistan in capacity building of its farmers and may uplift this sector through technology transfer which was badly needed to improve the agricultural yield. Korean corporations may also help the local economy by creating value addition in the textile sector, coastal belts and technology parks in various potential rural markets in Sindh, Punjab and Baluchistan.”

President KCCI stressed that it was imperative that Korean companies explore Joint Ventures (JVs) and investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under CPEC. Korean businesses/ corporations can also take advantage of opportunities in Pakistan’s IT sector, forest conservation and recycling. Participation in each other’s trade fairs and single country exhibitions would be a great way for the business community of both countries to explore new trade avenues and promotion strategies, he opined.

He stated that the year 2023 marks 40th anniversary of Korea-Pakistan business cooperation and diplomatic relationship which was a great achievement and it was heartening to see that the relations between the two countries were built upon trust, brotherhood and generosity. “We look forward to enhanced future business cooperation between Korea-Pakistan businesses which would boost the economic activities and contribute to sustainable economic development.”