ISTANBUL: President Asif Ali Zardari and his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul have agreed to accord high priority to further enhancement of their multi-faceted and broad-based cooperation through increased connectivity, promotion of two-sided trade and investment and further expansion of people to people contacts and exchanges. During their one-on-meeting in Istanbul Monday, they also agreed to finalize the currency swap agreement between the two countries this week to further to deepen, broaden and strengthen their partnership in every field.
The two Presidents also reviewed progress on the implementation of the ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA), Gul Train, the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC( between the two countries and the setting up of Techno Parks in Pakistan in collaboration with Turkish universities in their wide-ranging bilateral talks.
The currency swap agreement will enable the traders and business men of the two countries to trade in their respective currencies without drawing from their dollar based foreign exchange reserves. This will reduce the pressure on the foreign exchange reserves of the two countries on the one hand and give a quantum jump to the bilateral trade between the two countries he said.
The President has been looking at boosting Pakistan’s trade as a means to generate economic activity in the country for job creation to wean away the youth from falling prey to the temptations offered by extremists and militants to unemployed youth.
During the talks President Zardari said that the level of bilateral trade and
investment between the two countries remains far below the real
potential and there was a need to increase bilateral trade commensurate with the level of their political relationship. The existing bilateral trade of one billion dollars should be doubled to two billion dollars next year.
President Zardari said with a view to achieve this target, there is need to remove trade barriers and ease visa restrictions. The signing of an agreement on currency swap arrangement is an important step in trade facilitation. The President also called for fast tracking the conclusion of Pakistan-Turkey Preferential Trade Agreement.
The President said that it is an encouraging sign that private sectors are collaborating in the energy, construction, food processing and rubber industry. Pakistan wants to see further joint ventures and investment in key sectors such as infrastructure, engineering, energy, agriculture, telecommunications and mining. Pakistan would welcome Turkish investment in hydro-power generation and alternative energy. The President also called for opening of more Turkish bank branches in Pakistan and vice versa.
The President stressed the need for concerted efforts by all ECO countries to implement ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) and said that Pakistan was ready to work with Turkey. He thanked President Abdullah Gul for his personal interest in the “Gul train” project which would revolutionize cargo and transit facilities between the two countries and called for taking all the necessary steps to fast track the implementation of this key initiative. He said Pakistan Railways would provide full support to the newly
established private company TOBB Logistics Inc. for operating and marketing trains in an efficient manner.
Referring to cooperation in education, he said Pakistani universities are ready to establish “Techno-Parks” in Pakistan in collaboration with the Turkish universities. President Zardari said he was greatly encouraged by the successful outcome of the inaugural session of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) and called for an effective follow-up for timely implementation of the decisions taken at its first session. The President said we are looking forward to welcoming Prime Minister Erdo?an’s visit to Pakistan later this year to co-chair the second session of High Level Cooperation Council. Regional situation and situation in the Middle East also came under discussion in the meeting. The President lauded Turkey’s efforts to host the Istanbul Regional Conference.
He thanked Turkey for its support to Pakistan’s candidature to win the seat for UN Security Council as well as for Turkey,s assistance for flood affected people in Sindh. He also expressed grief over the loss of precious lives and destruction of property in the recent quake in Turkey. President Zardari also extended invitation to the Turkish President to visit Pakistan.
Meanwhile Presidents of Pakistan, Turkey and Afghanistan are having their sixth trilateral summit in Istanbul today (Tuesday) to focus on efforts aimed at bringing peace and stability in the region. President Asif Ali Zardari, who is already in Istanbul, would lead Pakistan’s delegation at the moot that seeks to harmonize positions and policies for establishing durable peace in Afghanistan.
The agenda of the summit, being hosted by Turkey, includes peace, stability and reconciliation in Afghanistan and economic cooperation for that country. President Zardari would address the summit and is expected to reiterate Pakistan’s support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan in an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace process. Interior Ministers and military and intelligence chiefs of the three countries would separately meet to discuss issues relating to security and stability and how to coordinate their activities for the purpose.