DAVOS: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Switzerland’s President Doris Leuthard on Wednesday stressed the need for exploring new avenues of cooperation and strengthening bilateral relations.
The two leaders made these observations during a meeting on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting here.
The prime minister informed the Swiss president that Pakistan deeply valued its relations with Switzerland and looked forward to enhancing bilateral partnership in diverse areas.
Terming Switzerland a friend and an important trade and investment partner of Pakistan, he lauded the country’s objective, non-discriminatory and criteria-based approach on the issue of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership.
“We hope that as part of the NSG troika, Switzerland would continue to maintain this principled stand, especially when it takes over the chair of the group later this year,” the prime minister said.
The Swiss president said her county’s stance on the issue of NSG was non-discriminatory and based on principles. Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan wanted peaceful and amicable resolution of all outstanding issues with India.
He praised efforts of the Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce, Swiss Global Enterprise (SGE) and Swiss Business Council (SBC) for introducing Pakistan to the country’s business houses, especially small and medium enterprises.
He also thanked the Swiss government for offering postgraduate scholarships to students from Pakistan at various public universities. The Swiss president said that despite challenges faced by Pakistan, her government was happy to see fast progress made by the country in economy.
She said Swiss companies were willing to work in Pakistan and her government was also willing to join hydroelectric power projects.
Switzerland currently ranks fifth in terms of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan. It has traditionally run a trade surplus with Pakistan and has been one of the country’s biggest direct investors for several years.
Many Swiss companies operate in Pakistan, some with their own production sites. These firms are mainly based in Karachi and employ around 12,000 people.
WEF chairman: The prime minister also held a meeting with WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab and briefed him on his economic agenda and vision for a progressive Pakistan.
Mr Schwab praised the progress of Pakistan on the economic front and also shared his feedback about the country after meeting various business leaders.
He informed the prime minister that the business leaders considered Pakistan a great investment destination.
He appreciated progress of Pakistan in the infrastructure sector and said the country was now ready to lead the regional connectivity initiative with Central Asia.
He said Pakistan was now attracting business groups from abroad, owing to improved security and improvement in the energy sectors.
During a meeting with Group Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Jose Vinals, Mr Sharif said Pakistan was now the new attractive destination for foreign investors and it offered security and attractive returns.
Mr Vinals said that profile of Pakistan had gone up significantly and added that its economic matrix was moving in the right direction.
Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2017