ISLAMABAD, Jan 3: Pakistan and Sweden have decided to set up a "business council" to increase their trade and investment, says Pakistan's Ambassador to Sweden and Finland Mr Shahid Kamal.
Mr. Kamal, who is in Islamabad these days, told Dawn that this Business Council will be established very soon to encourage increased cooperation especially between the private sectors of the two countries.
He said Sweden and Finland have decided to enhance trade relations with Pakistan and were encouraging their 90 private companies to increase investment in the country. "Our volume of trade with Sweden and Finland has considerably increased and we have been assured to have more foreign investment in 2005", he added.
"The president of Import Council of Sweden would soon visit Pakistan to encourage more imports from Pakistan," he said adding that Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has already been signed between the Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry with a view to enhancing volume of trade between the two countries.
He said that Board of Investment (BoI), Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) and the presidents of chambers of commerce were extending their support to help establish Business Council so that the objectives of the enhanced cooperation could be achieved between the two countries.
He said that there has been 22 per cent increase in Pakistan's exports to Sweden now touching $72 million that made the balance of trade in Islamabad's favour. Similarly, he said that a number of major Swedish companies including Ericsson, Volvo, Tatra Pak, Saab, NHM and IKEA Furniture, which were already present in the country, have decided to increase their investment in Pakistan.
He said M/S IKEA has increased its annual purchases from Pakistan to 100 million euro from 15 million euro during the last two years. Basically, he said, the company was importing rugs and fabrics from Pakistan for making quality furniture.
Giving the details, Ambassador Shahid Kamal said that Tatra Pak has decided to go into by-products like cheese, butter and yogurt to target the Middle East market. Sweden and Pakistan, he pointed out, witnessed increased trade and investment relations after many years and it all happened when Stockholm sent its trade delegation to Pakistan in January 2003.
Responding to a question, he said that Swedish and Finnish companies were interested in entering into joint ventures with Pakistani companies especially in the fields of auto parts, waste disposal and environmental projects.
He said Pakistan's exports to Finland have reached to $22 million which were being enhanced. Likewise, he said, Nokia mobile company and Wartsila power company were interested in increasing their investment in Pakistan. M/S Metso paper mill, he said, has just set up a paper mill in Qasur, near Lahore.
President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's recent visit to Sweden, Ambassador Kamal said, has greatly helped trade and economic relations between the two countries. He said that representatives of over 90 different Swedish and Finnish companies had visited Pakistan in 2003 that helped to have increased trade and investment activities in the country.
In reply to a question, he said that HNM was the fastest growing Swedish fashion company dealing in clothes whose world wide business has reached to $20 billion. It has a liaison office in Karachi through which the company was planning to invest in Pakistan, he added.