FPCCI (Meeting with Lt. Gen. (Retd) Muhammad Ashraf Saleem, High Commissioner of Pakistan Designate to Nigeria)

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Karachi (PR): Pakistan’s business community is keen to pursue enhanced trade relations with Nigeria , and would soon constitute a high-powered trade delegation to Nigeria , as well as other D-8 countries. This was stated by Haji Fazal Kadir Khan Sherani, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), while welcoming Lt. Gen. (R) Muhammad Ashraf Saleem, the Ambassador (Designate) to Nigeria on Friday, November 30, 2012. Also present on the occasion were FPCCI Vice Presidents, Mr. Iqbal Dawood Pakwalla and Sheikh Shakil Ahmed Dhingra; and former Vice President Mr. Zakaria Usman.

While welcoming Lt. Gen. (R) Saleem, the President said that with a population of 170 million, Nigeria is an important country for Pakistan . It is located on the coast of Western Africa, which means that through Nigeria , Pakistan can improve its trade relations with other countries in Western and Central Africa also. On the other hand, the trade between both countries was very limited. In 2011, Pakistan ’s exports to Nigeria were only $30 million, out of which, the majority was comprised of pharmaceuticals, cotton, synthetic fibres and textiles. He said that he had the opportunity to interact with the Nigerian delegation headed by President Goodluck Jonathan at the recently concluded D-8 bloc summit in Islamabad . He appreciated some suggestions to enhance bilateral trade that were given during the D-8 summit, such as the need for direct flights between Pakistan and Nigeria, opening of a banking channel and setting up a trade mission in the city of Lagos.

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He proposed that Pakistan should take advantage of Nigeria ’s rich gas reserves and set up fertiliser plants in Nigeria . Similarly, there are tremendous opportunities for cooperation in the area of agriculture and agri-implements. For example, Pakistan can sell good quality tractors at very reasonable rates to Nigeria .

Lt. Gen. (R) Saleem appreciated the President’s suggestions and said that PIA used to operate a flight to Kano , which may be reactivated. He also urged the business community to consider opening bank branches in Abuja , Kano and Lagos cities. He said that the Nigerian market was in need of middle and low-tech products, and therefore carried immense potential for Pakistan ’s exports. He invited Pakistani businessmen to participate in the Lagos International Trade Fair with a large delegation and also suggested holding single country exhibitions in Kano and Lagos . He also said that the Pakistan High Commission in Nigeria was accredited to Gabon , Ghana , Cameroon , Benin and Equatorial Guinea , and he would strive to further Pakistan ’s access to these markets. At the same time, he asked the business community to support the need for appointing a commercial counselor for Lagos , which was a very important city with respect to trade.

Furthermore, he pointed out four areas where great opportunities existed for Pakistani businessmen: (1) joint ventures in fertilizer projects, (2) LNG projects, (3) the import of agri-impediments; and (4) setting up oil refineries. He said Nigeria was keen to pursue these projects in collaboration with Pakistan . The meeting was concluded with the presentation of the FPCCI Crest to Lt. Gen. (R) Saleem.