LAHORE: Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Chairman of the FPCCI Management Committee, explained the bottlenecks in realizing the true trade potential that quantifiably exists between Pakistan and the Maldives; which currently stands at a measly $9 million. Lack of direct flights, lack of B2B contacts, insufficient government facilitation and failure to target the right sectors are the main reasons why Pakistani traders have not yet been able to tap into the true potential that exists in the Maldivian market, he added.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said there is significant demand for Pakistani halal food exports to the Maldives; namely, fresh fruits and vegetables; Halal meat; processed and semi-processed foods; dried fruits; various varieties of organic rice and snacks. He added that when it comes to food products, Pakistan can beat the competition on all fronts in the Maldivian market; be it price, quality or taste.

HE Mrs. Farzana Zahir, Maldives High Commissioner to Pakistan, said that the Maldives was seeking to diversify sources of import of construction materials, including cement and steel; associated with the growing demand for halal food products. She also called on Pakistani entrepreneurs, hoteliers and property developers to invest in the Maldivian tourism industry. The Maldives enjoys a 74% occupancy rate in the tourism and hospitality industries; and, this guarantees an excellent return on investment in the industry, she added.

Imran Khalil Naseer, a prominent business leader from Pakistan, pointed out that Pakistan can actually learn a lot from the Maldives’ tourism industry and its infrastructure – as Pakistan has many underutilized and underserved tourist hotspots. marketed as religious, natural and historical destinations. Usama Qureshi, an energy and FMCG expert, expressed deep interest in the Maldives’ open door policy to welcome unsolicited project proposals in the renewable and green energy sectors.

During the meeting, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh proposed that a revised, updated and expanded Memorandum of Understanding be signed between the FPCCI and the Maldives National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) to forge B2B alliances ; which will ultimately result in more dynamic G2G economic cooperation. He also proposed the formation of an effective and functional Joint Business Council (JBC) between the two sister counties.

The FPCCI chief called for the launch of direct flights between Pakistan and the Maldives to enable the business community on both sides to embark on much needed business and economic tourism – if not, all efforts may not produce the desired results, he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022