ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and South Korea signed on Monday several agreements at official and private levels to boost ties in trade, industries and energy sectors.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his South Korean counterpart Chung Hongwon witnessed the signing of memorandums of understanding on expanding bilateral trade, cooperation in industrial and energy sectors.
Commerce Secretary Mohammad Shahzad Arbab and Korean Vice Minister for Trade and Energy Han Jinhun signed the documents on behalf of their governments.
During official talks with the visiting dignitary, Mr Sharif proposed a comprehensive Pak-Korea free trade agreement to cover trade, investment and services with an objective to enhance trade volume from the current $1.6 billion.
He underlined the need for preparing a country partnership strategy with South Korea for three years and said the Lahore-Islamabad motorway bore testimony to mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and Pakistan wanted to replicate and enhance such cooperation in other fields.
The prime minister said the free economic zone along the China-Pak economic corridor offered investment opportunities to Korean investors.
The Korean small and medium enterprises could establish joint ventures in the manufacturing sector for a growing domestic market and Korean and regional markets, he said.
He invited Korean financial institutions to start operations in Pakistan and said that opening a branch of a Korean bank in Pakistan would boost business between the two countries.
Mr Sharif said Pakistan offered huge opportunities to Korean companies in energy generation, including hydel, wind, solar, biomass and coal generation, and “we would appreciate if Korean companies participate in initiatives such as Gadani Power Park and Quaid-i-Azam Solar Park”.
He said the construction of off- and on-shore LNG terminals offered investment opportunities to the Korean companies and Pakistan would welcome and facilitate Korean investment and technology in these sectors.
He said the two governments must promote interaction and cooperation between private sectors and regular interaction between respective boards of investment and chambers of commerce and industry.
The two leaders also discussed cooperation in science and technology, bio-engineering, information technology and exchange of human resources and other areas of common interest.
The South Korean prime minister agreed that the two countries should expand cooperation in trade, economy and energy sectors and proposed that bilateral relations should be enhanced by increasing personnel exchanges in the private sector.
Addressing a Korea-Pakistan Investment Cooperation Forum, the South Korean leader said his country was exploring avenues to enhance trade ties with Pakistan in addition to joint ventures in sectors like infrastructure, automobile and chemicals.
Mr Sharif expressed the hope that as an outcome of the investment forum, the Korean companies would be engaged in energy, infrastructure development, railways and telecommunication sectors.
At the investment forum, the two countries signed an agreement and two MoUs.
The Private Power Infrastructure Board and Korea Southeast Power Company signed the ‘implementation agreement’ to formalise the financial close of the 100MW Gulpur hydropower project to be set up at Kotli in Azad Kashmir on Poonch river, a tributary of the Jhelum river. The project will be completed by 2018.