A 6-member delegation of Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) will participate in International Product Exhibition and Conference, starting from October 08 at Doha, Qatar to tap the potential export of furniture products besides seeking foreign investment in furniture sector to boost the local economy. Presiding over a meeting of board of directors on Tuesday, PFC Chief Executive Mian Kashif Ashfaq, said that Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) extended their invitation to PFC for participation in this international fair, considering it a suitable platform where our local furniture makers could display their products to attract foreign buyers, as well as the investors.Throwing light on the current situation in regard to furniture export to Middle East countries, he said Pakistan is far behind in exports of furniture compared to our neighbouring countries like China, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Iran etc – only because of supply chain obstacles, lack of modern technology and low-quality materials. “As a result, Pakistan is losing its edge in traditional, carved, solid wood furniture domestically because of its high price and in markets abroad due to poor quality and designs,” he added. He said the demand for furniture and timber products within in the Middle East region has witnessed a massive growth during the past three to four years.“Diversification of the region’s economies into tourism and the increased focus on real estate-led economic development has definitely helped this growth,” adding he said that the continuous and rapid development of Qatar has opened the way for increased construction of residential buildings and new hotels has increased the demand for furniture, contributing to the boom in the region’s furniture business. He further said that in Saudi Arabia, construction projects worth $504 million are being developed while a US$1 billion ‘Financial City’ is under construction in Bahrain. These mega projects would spur continued demand for office furniture and interior decor products in the region.Mian Kashif Ashfaq said that he is confident that Qatar and Pakistan “are very much interested in further developing relations to higher levels of constructive cooperation at all fields.” He said a large Pakistani community is active in many sectors, including projects related to Qatar’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and there are also many Pakistani companies and businessmen who are investing in Qatar, taking advantage of the pro-investment environment and the incentives offered by the government to attract more foreign investors to the country. He said PFC will extend invitation to its Qatari businessmen to visit their country to explore the available investment opportunities in furniture sector. He underscored the genuine desire of both countries to strengthen their economic relations which resulted in the increase of their bilateral trade volume.Mian Kashif said that despite a small branch in the furniture industry, outdoor furniture contains huge market potential and they would try to exploit this branch as outdoor furniture is in great demand due to the Qatari government’s ever increasing attention to expand public buildings in Qatar. PFC Chief said that Pakistan has the capacity to gain its fair share in international markets. However, the government needs to provide robust backing to the furniture industry, otherwise, individual efforts may not fetch coveted results, he added. “Efforts must be made to promote furniture exports by increased participation in international shows,” he concluded.Published in Daily Times, September 5th 2018.