Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1st March, 2012: Pakistan and Malaysia have agreed to increase bilateral trade and work together to narrow down the trade gap currently heavily tilted in favour of Malaysia due to US $ 2 billion worth of palm oil Pakistan is importing from Malaysia to meet 95 per cent of its domestic requirements.
The understanding to work progressively towards balancing the trade gap and increasing import of better quality Pakistani products, especially rice and food products, by Malaysia was reached during a series of meetings held between the Malaysian officials and the Pakistani delegation headed by Mr. Tariq Iqbal Puri, Chairman of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), currently visiting Malaysia to explore ways for increasing the bilateral trade and forging business match-making and mutually beneficial partnerships.
The Pakistani delegation accompanied by Mr. Masood Khalid, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Malaysia, held separate meetings with heads of various government and business organizations as well as senior government officials and ministers, including Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Malaysia Datuk Seri Noh Bin Omar and Minister for Plantation, Industries and Commodities, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok. A number of issues and proposals aimed at strengthening the bilateral relations and increasing bilateral trade, especially in the fields of agriculture, construction, livestock and dairy, energy, education, IT and Halal industry were discussed.
During the meetings, Mr. Tariq Iqbal Puri told the Malaysian officials Pakistan was the world’s third largest importer of palm oil importing nearly 2.2 million MT every year of which 95 per cent came from Malaysia. “Palm oil alone makes up nearly 79 per cent of our US $2.55 billion imports from Malaysia which has swung the balance of trade massively in favour of Malaysia,” he said, adding it would like to narrow down the gap by exporting to Malaysia such Pakistani products as rice and mangoes which were already selling all over the world for their better quality and competitive prices and could grab greater share in the Malaysian market if the country-specific quota in respect of Pakistani products, especially rice, was enhanced.
Mr. Tariq Iqbal Puri said Pakistan produced the best quality rice and it was not only the 12th largest producer of rice but also the 4th largest exporter of rice yielding US $2.5 billion exports for the country only last year. “Pakistan has fully liberalized the import and export of rice which should allow the Malaysian importers greater ease to import more Pakistani rice to Malaysia to meet its domestic requirement of 1 million MT of rice,” he said.
The TDAP Chairman also urged the Malaysian government to consider importing processed Pakistani meat, especially beef and chicken, to meet its domestic requirements and those of its Armed Forces. He also advocated for greater penetration of Pakistani mangoes in the Malaysian market given the fact that they were accorded preferential market access under the FTA between Pakistan and Malaysia and were available in Pakistan also in the processed form after the installation of two Mango-pulp plants in Pakistan for production of better-quality end-products.
During the meetings, the Malaysian Ministers agreed to promote the bilateral trade and assured to explore ways for increasing the import of Pakistani rice and other products. They said Malaysia had already signed an agreement with Vietnam to import 800,000 MT of rice annually but for the remaining 200,000 MT required to meet the domestic demand, it was prepared to look at the possibility of enhancing import of the commodity from Pakistan.
Mr. Tariq Iqbal Puri thanked the Malaysian government for its support to Pakistan and invited both the Agriculture and Plantation ministers to lead a delegation of businessmen and entrepreneurs to Pakistan to attend the Expo Pakistan 2012 due later this year.
Earlier, Mr. Tariq Puri also held separate meetings with the Chairman of Malaysian Manufacturers Association (MFA) and Chairman of Halal Development Corporation (HDC). Besides, the Chairman of Malaysian Palm Oil Council also met the TDAP Chairman and hosted a dinner for the Pakistani delegation.