KARACHI: Consul General of Malaysia Herman Hardynata Bin Ahmad has said that the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed in 2008, needs to be reviewed to boost the existing trade between Pakistan and Malaysia.

Addressing the members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Wednesday, Mr Hardynata said former prime ministers Imran Khan and Mahathir Mohamed agreed in 2019 to review the FTA. Still, due to political hiccups in both countries, this could not be done.

The envoy hoped that the pending review of the FTA would be taken up by both governments soon.

Regarding the reservation of 3,000 acres by the Sindh government for the plantation of palm oil trees, the consul general said that it was a good investment opportunity for Malaysian companies which are always looking forward to making investments outside because the Malaysian market was overcrowded now.

Malaysia is currently facing a dire shortage of manpower and is ready to welcome more workforce from Pakistan as currently out of a total assigned quota of 100,000 only 3,000 workers are present in Malaysia, he disclosed.

In addition to these 3,000 workers, a large number of Pakistani expats were also working in Malaysia mostly in the fields of information technology, healthcare and as the finance sector, he added. Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, Malaysia received 55,000 tourists from Pakistan and since the opening of Malaysia’s borders in March this year till September, 19,000 Pakistani tourists visited Malaysia, he said.

Malaysian tourists are not much aware of Pakistan’s tourism and there is a need to promote tourism opportunities in Pakistan. He said he has already recommended the commencement of direct flights between the two countries.

President KCCI Tariq Yousuf said Pakistan’s exports to Malaysia remained at $432.69 million while the imports stood at $1.15 billion in FY22, showing two-way trade in favour of Malaysia.

He mentioned that the Sindh government has decided to reserve 3,000 acres of forestland in the Thatta district near the coastal belt for the plantation of palm oil trees while the overall coastal belt was spread over 1,000 kilometres and was very suitable for palm oil plantations.

He asked the Malaysian government to review tariffs on palm oil products and facilitate crude oil refiners’ tariffs in addition to negotiating prices or quotas in the form of forward contracting to help Pakistan develop this industry.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2022

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