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Pakistan’s envoy to UAE says food exports to Middle East hit $700 million this year

An overview of the Pakistani pavilion at the Gulfood Exhibition in Dubai, UAE on Feb. 20, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan mission, UAE)
An overview of the Pakistani pavilion at the Gulfood Exhibition in Dubai, UAE on Feb. 20, 2024. (Photo courtesy: Pakistan mission, UAE)


Pakistan’s top diplomat to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) said this week that the country’s exports of food and agriculture products to the Middle East and Gulf region reached $700 million during the current financial year, crediting Pakistan’s consistent presence at an annual Dubai food exhibition for enhancing market access for the country’s products. 
The five-day Gulfood Exhibition, one of the world’s largest annual food and beverage trade exhibitions, kicked off this year on Feb. 19 and will be held till Feb. 23. The event brings together global industry leaders to showcase food and beverage products. 
Over 500 exhibitors from 200 countries are taking part in the exhibition this year. A total of 100 Pakistani exhibitors are taking part in the ongoing festival, out of which 45 are sponsored by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP). 
“Pakistan’s exports in this sector (food and agriculture products) stood at $700 million in the Gulf and Middle East region during the financial year 2023-2024 (up to December),” Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, told Arab News. 
Gulfood Exhibition features exhibitors from various sectors of the food and beverage industry, including manufacturers, producers, distributors, and suppliers. The event attracts thousands of visitors and exhibitors from across the globe, making it a significant event for the food industry.

Tirmizi said the significant presence of Pakistani firms at the exhibition would lead to increased B2B (business-to-business) collaborations and joint ventures in Pakistan.
“Regular participation in Gulfood has resulted in better market access and expansion,” he said. “Causing around a 40 percent increase in food and agri exports to UAE and Middle East/African markets.”
Tirmizi said Pakistani exhibitors represented diverse sub-sectors including dairy, meat, poultry, and beverages sectors. He said sideline events, such as workshops, chef talks, and investment opportunities, are also discussed at the venue. 
Visitors include traders, investors, government officials, and regulators that come with numerous opportunities for collaboration, the envoy added.
Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, TDAP chief executive, said Pakistani exporters have been participating in the Gulfood Exhibition for several years with the trade authority’s support. He said it was encouraging to see the increasing number of Pakistani exhibitors each year.

“Considering the ongoing trends, it is safely projected that our exports of food items will cross $7 billion (globally) by the end of this financial year,” Motiwala told Arab News. 
“Which is in sharp contrast to about $4 billion in annual exports in this sector, previously.”
Motiwala said the TDAP has specifically focused on enhancing food and food-allied products, which was paying dividends in the form of a substantial increase in the country’s exports in the sector.
“It is extremely encouraging to share that there is a remarkable increase of 300 to 400 percent in the exports of sesame seeds this year,” Motiwala disclosed.
He said Pakistani rice exports would cross $3 billion in comparison to the previous figure of $1.5 billion.

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