Pakistan and Israel engage in rare trade, first shipment of food products offloaded

A view of dry fruits sent from Pakistan to Israel. [Photo: Twitter/Screengrab]

An organization of American Jews celebrated the first cargo of food goods from Pakistan that was unloaded in Israel on Thursday. The association said it was the first shipment from Karachi sent to Israel.

According to a statement released by the American Jewish Congress from its New York offices, Fishel BenKhald, a Pakistani-Jewish businessman, and three Israeli businessmen were engaged in the transaction this week.

BenKhald maintains a kosher certification company for food producers who export their goods to countries around the globe from Karachi, the country’s capital and biggest metropolis. On Tuesday, he tweeted about the unusual mutual commerce.’

The statement said business and trade have the power to bring ideas and people closer, and this week we have seen major steps taken in Israel, Pakistan, and the United Arab Emirates to expand prosperity and opportunity for everyone in the Middle East.

It further said that this week, the first shipment of Pakistan-origin food products was offloaded in Israel, in a transaction that involved Pakistani-Jewish businessman Fishel Benkhald, based in Pakistan’s business hub of Karachi, and three Israeli businessmen from Jerusalem and Haifa. Benkhald is at the heart of a small but growing Pakistani Kosher Food industry that exports kosher food from the Muslim-majority nation to different destinations worldwide. Pakistani and international media widely reported the story and Benkhald posted a video clip of Pakistani food items on display in a Jerusalem market, garnering more than a half-million views.

It said that the move coincided with the United Arab Emirates decision to reduce or remove tariffs on about 96% of goods traded with Israel. Trade exhibits hosted by the UAE helped Pakistani and Israeli businessmen conclude a deal that enabled this week’s Pakistani shipment to Israel.

“We welcome this small step that can have wider implications for Israeli and Pakistani economies and for the region at large. In welcoming this development, we recall the legacy of our public diplomacy initiatives in 2005, – spearheaded by our President Jack Rosen, and in partnership with the American Council for World Jewry – that culminated in diplomatic and economic breakthroughs at the time between Israel and Pakistan, two nations that do not have diplomatic ties yet but whose entrepreneurs and technologists have forged ahead in pursuit of common prosperity,” reads the statement.

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