(MENAFN- Gulf Times) Strengthening trade ties between Qatar and Pakistan would factor significantly in the Gulf nation's food security initiatives amid an economic blockade imposed on the country in June 2017, Pakistan's ambassador to Qatar said.
Speaking at the ‘Pakistan-Qatar Business & Investment Opportunities Conference' held in Doha yesterday, ambassador Shahzad Ahmad said: 'Deepening trade ties with Pakistan aligns with the current policy of Qatar to enhance its food security.
'Post-blockade there is a significant opportunity for Pakistani businesses seeking to enhance their exports to Qatar as Qatari businesses seek new partners and adjust their supply chains to the new realities in the region, he continued.
Ahmad said Pakistan 'is in a unique position in the region, being a food-surplus country, enjoying longstanding and close bilateral relations with the state of Qatar.
'Transit shipping time of just under four days places it at a competitive advantage vis-à-vis most other countries outside the GCC. We also have had some success in convincing Qatari authorities to commence direct shipping link with Pakistan and since August, We have two separate shipping lines that are providing logistic services from Karachi port to Hamad Port. Qatar Airways also continues to strengthen its air operations to Pakistan, he said.
Backed by government-led investment opportunities, Qatar and Pakistan are keen to expand trade relations in a wide range of mega projects in the country, including food security, according to Qatar Chamber vice-chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari.
In a speech, al-Kuwari encouraged Pakistani companies to take advantage of the investment opportunities being offered by the government to the private sector and foreign investors.
These opportunities include mega infrastructure projects related to Qatar's hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup, as well as the QR1.6bn Strategic Food Security Facilities Project — a food storage and processing facility at Hamad Port, which is capable of supplying stockpile for three main commodities: rice, sugar, and edible oils for 3mn people for two and a half years.
Aside from food and related products, Ahmad also stressed on Pakistan's large industrial manufacturing base, which has 'much to offer Qatar in sectors like textiles, pharmaceuticals, and technology, including software development and electronics manufacturing, as well as chemical manufacturing and the construction industry.
'Besides, with a large consumer base of more than 200mn, Pakistan's stock market and its hospitality and retail sectors offer potential investors highly attractive returns, the ambassador said.
Ahmad also lauded the government's visa-on-arrival initiative, which, he said, 'has eliminated a significant trade barrier.
'Work visas for Pakistanis are now freely available. Due to encouragement by the Qatari authorities, Pakistan is enhancing its trade promotion activities through better participation in trade exhibitions taking place in Qatar, he continued.
Zahid Latif Khan of the Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce & Industry, which organised the conference, said 61 business persons representing sectors like cement, construction, electric cables, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, real estate, interior decoration, handicrafts and jewellery, hotel furniture and related equipment, and textile participated in the event.
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