KARACHI: Maldives offered a lot of opportunities to businessmen and industrialists of Pakistan and they should frequently visit the country to enhance bilateral trade in different sectors of the economy, a diplomat said on Saturday.
Member of the Maldivian Parliament Abdul Bari Abdulla said, “We are not producers, but largely importers, whereas Pakistan, being a producing country, can provide several goods and services to Maldives.”
“The business community of Pakistan should focus on improving linkages with Maldivians by holding maximum number of B2B meetings, which would certainly prove favourable for the two countries,” he said while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Abdulla said that Maldives mostly imports rice, fruits and vegetables from Pakistan, but many other products, particularly textiles, cotton and agricultural commodities can also be exported to Maldives.
“The Maldivian businessmen are very much interested in enhancing economic cooperation and bilateral trade with Pakistan,” he said.
Highlighting the existing tourism potential between the two countries, he said, “Tourism is another area, which offers huge opportunities for not only enhancing ties, but would also bring Maldivians and Pakistanis more close to each other.”
“Our dream is to see the beautiful rivers and snowfall in Pakistan, while your dream is to experience the most exotic white sandy beaches in Maldives,” Abdulla said.
There were a lot of misconceptions among Maldivians about the security situation in Pakistan, which is as safe as Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and many other countries in the region, he said.
Appreciating the hospitality extended to the Maldivian delegation by the Karachi Chamber and other trade associations, he reiterated that the business and industrial community of Karachi should visit Maldives to review the opportunities for enhancing trade.
“This is the right time to strengthen cooperation between Pakistan and Maldives, as new governments have recently assumed charge in both the countries,” he said.
KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda said that the economic relations with Maldives are minimal due to the lack of direct shipping services between the two countries.
It was a matter of concern that trade remains very limited despite the fact the two countries are members of South Asian Free Trade Areas (SAFTA) agreement, he added.
Trade volume with Maldives stood at a mere $7.22 million, which requires collective efforts, he said, adding: “In this regard, I would like to stress the need to effectively utilise trade platforms and trade promotion events, while effective utilisation of SAFTA agreement can prove beneficial for both the countries.
Pakistan can find a market for its engineering and electrical products in Maldives, while also exploring the iron and steel sector. Further, signing of MoUs between KCCI and its peer chamber in Maldives would also bring business communities closer, while the agreements on tourism, trade promotion, higher education and human resource capacity building would help further consolidate bilateral relations, Makda added. “We want to promote and do everything for the development of Pakistan–Maldives business cooperation.”