A high level delegation of Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) Monday left for Sri Lanka on a 3-days to explore new markets and strengthening existing bilateral trade relations with their counterparts in furniture industry during business-to-business contacts.
Prior to departure at airport, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq, heading the delegation, said members of the delegation would study about the latest trends of designing of products and modern technologies in their fields to better their trade to compete for global markets,” says a press statement issued here.
He said PFC is focusing on marketing activities in key foreign markets mainly United States, Japan, European Union, the Gulf region and South Asia. He said Sri Lanka can provide huge opportunities to Pakistani exporters to market their products including handmade furniture in European markets in collaboration with Lankan companies.
Replying to a question about the future scope of trade with Sri Lanka, he said Pakistan can easily double exports to Sri Lanka in a year’s time by effectively using the duty concessions under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and if the steps would be taken timely in right direction, he expected Pakistan’s exports to Sri Lanka to be $500 million from the current $267 million within a year.
He said the trade balance is heavily in favour of Pakistan. “Its exports to Sri Lanka amounted to $267 million while Sri Lankan exports to Pakistan were worth just $58 million,” he added. “Sri Lanka mainly exports textile products like men’s T-shirts while it imports bed wear, trousers, silk and synthetic textile and other ready-made garments.
“Pakistan’s exports are slowly growing and it can further increase its share.” Mian Kashif said Pakistan needed to move from traditional cotton cloth to value-added furniture products to increase its exports.
He said furniture trade with Sri Lanka is at its lowest level and there is a dire need to explore furniture markets in this part of the region. He said “we should focus on intra-regional trade so that this South Asia can foster to meet the modern challenges.”
Replying to another question, he admitted that lack of connectivity is a major reason behind low inter-regional trade in South Asia. However, he said South Asia has a trade opportunity of $80 billion as against the actual trade of $28 billion. “Remedial measures may push the regional trade to as high as $170 billion by 2020,” he added.
He said Sri Lankan furniture producers are targeting Middle East and European markets but Pakistani furniture industry is also equally enjoying a superb potential to compete. He quoted the example of Japan that has a great scope for Pakistani furniture because they like Pakistani traditional hand-carved furniture designs with classic finishing and similar designs can be replicated in South Asian especially in Sri Lankan markets. Therefore, efforts must be made to promote furniture exports by more regular participation in international shows. All this can happen if there is government’s strong will for it and a vision among furniture traders.