Belgium to Increase Investment in Pakistan Despite Gross Human Rights Violations
The Ambassador of Belgium Philippe Bronchain announced during an official visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) that Belgium was interested in scaling up investments in Pakistan. Addressing the business community, the ambassador said he would play a role in building a strong image of Pakistan in his country. Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that Belgium was one of Pakistan’s important trading partners within the European Union, although the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Belgium was still below USD 1 billion.
Pakistan enjoys one of the EU's most favourable trade schemes, the GSP+. The arrangement is conditioned by the effective implementation of 27 international conventions related to human rights, labour rights, protection of the environment and good governance. However, Pakistan promotes the systematic persecution of journalists and activists, conducts enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings and torture. As far as Pakistan’s religious freedom violations are concerned, Pakistan is one of the worst violators globally. In light of the vicious persecution of ethinic and religous minorities, the policy paper Religious Persecution in Pakistan and the EU’s Generalised Scheme of Preferences Plus (GSP+): Inspirations from US Policy calls for the temporary withdrawal procedure of the EU’s GSP+ trade preferences to Pakistan pursuant to Article 19 of the GSP Regulation.
Below an article published by The Nation
Ambassador of Belgium Philippe Bronchain on Tuesday visited Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). During his visit to ICCI, he was along with his Trade Commissioner Abid Husain.
Addressing the business community, the ambassador said that his country was interested in making investment in Pakistan as it was a potential country for business and investment activities.
He discussed various prospects for further enhancing bilateral trade, investment and JVs between Belgium and Pakistan. He said that he would play role to build a strong image of Pakistan in his country.
Abid Husain, Trade Commissioner, Embassy of Belgium said that Pakistan was mostly exporting textiles products and some raw materials to Belgium. However, he said that Pakistan needed to invest in technology for producing value added products that would increase its footprint in foreign markets. He said it would also help Pakistan to fully capitalize on the GSP Plus concession of EU in order to enhance its exports.
He said that Pakistani diaspora in Belgium could play role for up scaling bilateral trade ties between the two countries. Speaking at the occasion, Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that Belgium was one of Pakistan’s important trading partners within the European Union, however, the bilateral trade volume between Pakistan and Belgium was still below USD 1 billion despite the fact that both countries have the potential to promote trade in many areas.
He briefed the Belgium Ambassador about the potential opportunities for JVs and investment in Pakistan. He said that Turkey, Germany, UK and many other countries were taking keen interest in CPEC and stressed that Belgium’s investors should bring technology to setup JVs in Pakistan.
Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that Pakistan and Belgium were doing trade in limited items, which was the main reason of low trade volume and stressed that both countries should focus on diversification of trade to achieve better results.
He said that geographical positions of Pakistan and Belgium offered the entrepreneurs of both countries unique opportunities for getting enhanced market access in their respective regions, which could be exploited by developing strong business linkages between private sectors of both countries. He said that Embassy of Belgium should share list of its top 10 imports so that Pakistani exporters could make efforts to meet its imports needs.
Malik Sohail Hussain, Faad Waheed, M. Aslam Khokhar, Mian Arif Hussain and others also spoke at the occasion and gave suggestions for further improving bilateral trade and economic relations between Pakistan and Belgium.
Photo: The Nation