Turkish president's Pakistan visit 'more important than previous ones'

– Pakistan’s commerce minister sees enhanced cooperation between Pakistani, Turkish companies

By Aamir Latif

KARACHi, Pakistan (AA) – Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Pakistan visit is more important than the previous ones as the already strengthened bilateral ties have gone to a higher level, Pakistani commerce minister told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday.

Islamabad is expecting “much more” out of the forthcoming visit compared to the previous ones, Abdul Razzak Dawood, the minister for commerce, textile, industry, production and investment, told Anadolu Agency in an interview.

“We look at this visit as very very important. He [Erdogan] is bringing a strong business delegation with him, which shows his eagerness to bolster trade and economic ties with Pakistan,” he said.

“What I am expecting is that we already have the presence of Turkish companies here. But that’s not enough. We want these numbers double, even triple,” Dawood said, adding: “We want to increase cooperation with Turkish companies to benefit from their expertise in different sectors, mainly construction, tourism, engineering, food processing, chemicals, and information technology”.

Referring to a long-awaited Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, he said the two sides had agreed to prepare a “scoping list” to examine their respective sectors of strength, with an ultimate aim to boost the bilateral trade volume.

“I met the Turkish commerce minister in Davos, Switzerland [on the sidelines of World Economic Forum meeting] twice. We have orally agreed on a framework to boost our bilateral trade volume,” he said, and added: “I am sure that on the basis of this study [scoping list], we will be able to identify the sectors to cooperate”.

The current trade volume between the two countries is $900 million. Turkey and Pakistan are engaged in Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) that aims to boost the bilateral trade volume.

Last year, Ankara presented its proposals on the SEF to Islamabad with an aim to expand the bilateral trade volume five times from its existing level.

The SEF includes some 71 actionable items — including free trade agreement, technology transfer, capacity building, and defense cooperation.

“We have already signed the FTA with China, and now we are looking forward to follow the suit with Turkey,” the minister added.