ISLAMABAD: South Korea wants to improve trade ties with Pakistan and the establishment of an IT park in Islamabad is a step towards doing so, South Korean Ambassador Dr Song Jong-Hwan said at a gathering at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).

South Korea will establish one of the biggest and most advanced IT parks in Islamabad in an area of about one million square feet.

The Exim Bank of Korea has agreed to provide $50 million for the establishment of the park and South Korean teams are expected to conduct a feasibility study with assistance from the Ministry of IT and Pakistan Software Exports Board (PSEB).

It is expected that the IT park will attract international companies to develop software and hardware solutions and will also help boost the country’s IT exports.

“Establishing the park will promote small and medium enterprises as well,” Dr Song said.

He added that the IT park would be set up in collaboration with the Ministry of IT in Pakistan and will provide the most advanced business facilities to IT companies in the country.

Dr Song said bilateral trade between the two countries has declined by almost 34pc in the last three years and said this should be a cause for serious concern for both sides.

He said the non-availability of trade-related information and a lack of understanding about the promising areas of cooperation were the major reasons for the low volume of trade between the countries.

However, he said that both Pakistan and Korea have started free trade agreement feasibility studies which will be completed by the end of June this year and added that both sides were expecting increases in bilateral trade once this was done.

The envoy said that Korea was cooperating with Pakistan in the energy sector as well and that the Korean Importers Association was looking for partners to import thousands of tonnes per month of good quality copper ore from Pakistan.

There are many possibilities for mutual cooperation between the two countries, he said and assured that his embassy will facilitate the use of such opportunities.

ICCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh said that South Korea had placed strict sanitary and phytosanitary measures because of which many Pakistani agricultural products were struggling to find a good place in Korean markets and asked for such measures to be revised.

Because it is an advanced economy, Mr Sheikh said Korea should help Pakistan in modernising its economy through technology transfers, knowledge sharing, capacity building, enhanced trade, investments and joint ventures.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2016