LAHORE: Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina Sakib Foric said on Monday that Bosnia was a small but developed country and provided a road to the European Union (EU).
Speaking here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he added that Pakistan was an amazing country and it had immediately acknowledged Bosnia, but cordial and brotherly relations did not show in the mutual trade of just around $30 million.
The Bosnian ambassador said, “Pakistan is a peace-keeper and feels us very deeply. Pakistan has done what a brother can do but these brotherly relations should also be translated into trade and economic ties, as at present only 37 Pakistani companies are operating in Bosnia.”
He said that the Bosnian government had given immense benefits to the businessmen and there was a tax exemption for five years for a new company, while the government also helped in the establishment of new companies that could also do business with European Union. He mentioned that electricity was cheaper and taxes were lower in Bosnia as compared to the EU.
The Ambassador also invited Pakistani businessmen to join hands with their Bosnian counterparts and explore trade and investment opportunities in Bosnia where they could enjoy number of benefits.
The ambassador, who spent well over an hour at Lahore Chamber, invited Pakistani businessmen to visit the country for having first hand knowledge about the available opportunities and initiating joint ventures with their Bosnian counterparts.
LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that Pakistan and Bosnia had good brotherly ties based on common religion and sound diplomatic relations. However, the trade figures of recent years did not represent these relations at all, he said and asserted that LCCI had been taking keen interest in projecting trade potential of Central Asian Republics. China-Central Asia Corridor was one of the five corridors being established under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). He said that this initiative included network of connectivity, industrialization, trade promotion, energy generation, and much more. The BRI promised unparalleled economic benefits to all the trading partners, he continued.
Malik Tahir Javaid said it was high time for Pakistan and Bosnia to establish strong linkages that could play instrumental role in materializing trade and investment initiatives expected to emerge due to these developments.
Talking about trade between two countries, he said that recent years showed dismal trade performance since their bilateral trade flow was as low as $196,000 in 2016 which elaborated the whole account, and special efforts must be made to turn around this situation. Bosnia was the 74th largest export economy of the world and out of its total imports amounting to $9 billion, the share of Pakistan was insignificant.
“We expect that things will soon get better. During OIC summit on Science and Technology in Astana, the Presidents of two countries met in September last year and agreed to enhance bilateral trade and withdrawal of double taxation system. We need to identify some products to trade with and also make the trading arrangements much safer and efficient. We in close coordination with Bosnian Embassy can improve the situation. We will certainly welcome to have trade related information from your embassy for onward circulation among our members,” he suggested.
LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid, Honorary Consul of Bosnia Danish Iqbal, Honorary Consul of Spain Zaheer Islam and other members were also present.