Philippines and Pakistani businessmen must look at one another” – Ambassador Espiritu 

KARACHI – We foresee huge business potential and opportunities in Pakistan, and it is sad that many foreign businessmen have ignored these opportunities. The Pakistan of today is a different and vibrant Pakistan.

To prove my point, I am pleased to inform that a very large business delegation from Philippines will be visiting Pakistan this year to seek the new opportunities that Pakistan has to offer.” This was stated by Daniel Ramos Espiritu, Ambassador of Republic of Philippines in Pakistan at the ceremony to formally induct Pakistan-Philippines Business Forum as part of Employers’ Federation of Pakistan Economic Council.

The Ambassador dealt in detail on Pakistan Philippines bilateral trade and investment. Recalling the year 2014 when he first came to Islamabad, bilateral trade relations figures were very modest around US$ 100 – 110 million per year. However, in 2018, the bilateral trade jumped to nearly US$ 280 million per year that reflected a surplus of US$ 141 million in favor of Pakistan.

Citing an example, the rice imports from Pakistan jumped from US$ 24000 in 2014, to US$ 24 million in 2017. He added that Philippines is embarking on a mega infrastructure building initiative and would spend US$ 125 billion in 6 years. Therefore, the demand for cement, building material and interior requirements could be imported from Pakistan.

Mr. Espiritu further informed that “we Filipinos are now discovering the pharmaceutical products of Pakistan. I would advise the pharma companies to set up their units in Philippines to take advantage of the huge demand, and in the process become more cost effective due to the heavy freight and expenses.” 27 percent of exports from Philippines are related to electronics, and Pakistan can be a very profitable market for the electronic industry.

The diplomat from Philippines informed that 10 million Filipinos are working overseas including one million in Saudi Arabia. These workers send over US$ 30 billion in remittances every year, and this huge chunk takes care of the trade deficit that is US$ 35 billion. Philippines is the 29th largest economy in the world, and in a couple of years it will scale up from Lower Middle Class country to Upper Middle Class country. Moreover, Philippines has invested around US$ 80 billion abroad. Philippine was thus shielded from the economic meltdown of 1997 and 2008. He also mentioned that Philippine is the Typhoon Capital of the world facing 20 typhoons every year. Mr. Espiritu congratulated EFP-EC and the PPBF on this historical initiative to join hands for the promotion of trade and investment between the two countries.

Earlier, Dr. Imran Y. Yousaf Hon Consul General while welcoming the guests paid glowing tributes to the Ambassador for his total commitment and fullest support to enhance bilateral trade between Pakistan and Philippines. Mr. Fahdel Sheikh, President PPBF North Zone and Mr. Mehmood Arshad, President PPBF South Zone, enumerated the progress and achievements of their respective zones in furthering bilateral trade investment.

Mr. Ismail Suttar, Chairman EFP-EC in his remarks introduced Employers’ Federation of Pakistan and the rationale behind forming the Economic Council. He informed that the Economic Council has taken up the mantle of preparing, formulating and disseminating pragmatic solutions to the various economic issues faced by Pakistan. In this context, the EC prepared the EFP Economic Vision 2030 that reflects the vision of the private sector in resolving the economic issues of Pakistan. He said that the inclusion of PPBF in EC is a manifestation of the long-term strategy to evolve the EC into a formidable think tank and research-oriented organization. He further informed a high-powered business delegation would be visiting Philippines at the end of February 2019.

Mr. Majyd Aziz, President Employers’ Federation of Pakistan, in his remarks thanked the Ambassador for gracing the occasion by his presence and assured him that the business community led by EFP would endeavor to attain the objectives of a strong and fraternal bilateral trade relationship between the two progressive Asian nations. Later, Mr. Ismail Suttar and Mr. Mehmood Arshad, signed the agreement to formalize the inclusion of PPBF as part of EFP-EC. Mr. Ismail Suttar, presented the EFP-EC memento, while Mr. Asif Zuberi, presented the traditional Ajrak.

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