PRESIDENT of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has called upon the government to focus its efforts on trade promotion with Islamic states as the Islamic Chamber collectively represents a GDP of $7 trillion.
Speaking on the occasion of the visit of a delegation of Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA), headed by its Secretary-General Yousef Hasan Khalawi, he said the Islamic countries have a huge demand for Pakistani textiles, leather goods, rice, fruit, vegetable and IT services.
Pakistan is facing a huge trade deficit of $4 billion a month and it can definitely bridge this gap by promoting trade and investment linkages as well as exporting skilled and semi-skilled manpower.
This can be done both through bilateral arrangements and under the umbrella of the OIC and its affiliates like ICCIA.
Considering the fact that Pakistan is an agrarian country, fourth largest milk producing state and one of the largest meat producers, there is a vast scope for meaningfully increasing exports of agri products, milk and its products, meat including poultry and fish provided we have proper processing, packaging and marketing processes and strategies to satisfy the quality conscious consumers in the Islamic world.
The potential of halal meat export alone can fetch billions as Saudi Arabia alone imported meat worth $2 billion last year and Egypt $1.2 billion worth of meat last year.
There is also a need for introduction of innovative livestock farming techniques to improve the yields of the livestock population in the country and this has assumed greater significance in the backdrop of loss of hundreds of thousands of cattle-heads during recent floods.
Pakistan also has an edge in IT and telecommunication technologies, sports and surgical goods and small arms and ammunition which can be exploited to increase trade with OIC member states.
Foreign Office and other relevant ministries should prepare concrete proposals for increasing intra-OIC trade and embark upon a diplomatic offensive to get them implemented with the cooperation of other active members of the OIC.