“Breaking Boundaries: Ethiopia-Pakistan Trade Ties Reach New Heights!”

KARACHI: Ambassador of Ethiopia Jemal Beker Abdula, while referring to successful operations of Ethiopian Airlines which has been flying four times a week from Karachi, stated that keeping in view the enhanced people-to-people and business-to-business linkages between the two countries, efforts were being made to further expand flight operations of Ethiopian Airlines to daily basis from Karachi which would certainly be instrumental towards Pakistan’s Look & Engage Africa Policy by connecting Pakistan with over 70 destinations in Africa.

“With commencement of Ethiopian Airlines operations in Karachi along with an agreement with KCCI, the connectivity issue as well as the missing link between institutions of both countries have been successfully addressed during the last one-and-a-half-year. We are also working to bring Ethiopia’s cargo services to Pakistan which would help in taking a lot of goods and services from Pakistan to the rest of the world”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), he added

Honorary Consul General of Ethiopia Ibrahim Tawwab, Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Senior Vice President Altaf A. Ghaffar, Vice President Tanveer Ahmed Barry, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Farooq Afzal and KCCI Managing Committee Members also attended the meeting.

Ethiopian Envoy, while extending full support and cooperation to KCCI on behalf of Ethiopian Government, said that Karachi Chamber with a strong membership base of 50,000, contributes very well to Pakistan’s economy and was undoubtedly the backbone of this country.

He said that various chambers of commerce in Pakistan have been identified including KCCI as they have the potential to bring both nations closer to each other due to geographical factor and their size. In this regard, agreements have been signed with KCCI and other sectoral associations to work together, protect business communities, exchange ideas and advance a mutual cooperation on opportunities available in both countries, he said, adding that Ethiopia was deeply interested in strengthening economic cooperation with Pakistan which will prove favorable for both countries having comparative advantage.

He informed that Ethiopia was one of the peaceful countries with least criminal rate whose economy was one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a strong GDP growth of 7.5 percent per year. “Within three years, we have doubled our GDP. This is something very amazing for all of you. We also became the third largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa. We’re trying to stabilize micro-level economic stabilization and also introduced structural reforms, besides addressing the energy issue and identifying potential sectors.”

He said that Ethiopia has identified five key sectors including agriculture & agro-processing, manufacturing, mining, tourism and Information Technology wherein the Pakistani business community can explore a lot of investment opportunities. “We have more than 40 specialized industrial zones with one window service along with tax holiday from 8 to 10 years and above. Agriculture, pharmaceutical, textiles, surgical, construction and fertilizers etc. are some of the promising sectors in Ethiopia.”

Ethiopian Envoy informed that a trade delegation comprising of more than 100 Pakistani businessmen was being organized to Ethiopia from 26th May to 31st May 2024 which was going to be a big opportunity, hence, the Karachi Chamber must also become part of this important trade delegation.

Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, who joined the meeting via Zoom, stated that although this was the second trade delegation being send from Pakistan to Ethiopia but an Ethiopian delegation must also come Pakistan.

He also stressed the need to practically deal with trade barriers in terms of logistics, quality and acceptability in the Ethiopian and Pakistani Markets. “I believe that faster people to people relationship and creating business relationship is the requirement of the time.”

Chairman BMG also underscored the need to expedite and finalize Pakistan-Ethiopia Trade Agreement which was currently being reviewed by both the governments in addition to enhancing economic diplomacy, capacity building and undertaking joint ventures for setting up cement, sugar and fertilizer plants etc. in Ethiopia.

President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while welcoming the Ethiopian Envoy, said that despite immense trade potential, Pakistan’s exports to Ethiopia stood at the meagre level of $3.8 million in July-March FY24 compared to last year which need to be further enhanced to an acceptable level by addressing trade barriers, simplifying customs procedures, promoting ease of doing business, and supporting SMEs which would foster trade and economic integration between Pakistan and Ethiopia.

He noted that Pakistan’s exports to the African market stood at $1.31 billion in FY23 which was 4.72 percent of Pakistan’s total exports. Both countries should further enhance bilateral trade and open up new dimensions for regional cooperation, he stressed, adding that both countries need to explore opportunities in the agriculture sector and may set up food processing units through joint ventures to boost agro-food products and enhance bilateral exports between the two countries.

He was of the opinion that Ethiopian entrepreneurs have the potential to leverage Pakistan’s strategic location, serving as a gateway to Central Asian markets. They can explore the array of opportunities already present within the SIFC and CPEC frameworks while the strategically located Gwadar and Djibouti ports may provide the shortest routes between Pakistan and East Africa.

President KCCI further stated that Pakistan has 5.2 million SMEs contributing 40 percent to GDP, 25 percent to exports and employment, presenting vast investment potential. Ethiopian investors can strategically invest in various sectors including Agrifoods, Textiles, Apparel, Handicrafts, SMEs, Energy, Renewables, Health, Safety, Cybersecurity, AI, Biotechnologies, etc. Participation in trade fairs in each other’s trade fairs and exhibitions would be a great way for the business community of both countries to explore new trade avenues and promotion strategies, he added.