ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed to establish a working group for the export of halal food from Pakistan to the kingdom, Saudi investment in the construction of the north-south gas pipeline, accelerated negotiations on a bilateral investment treaty and the exchange of parliamentary delegations.
The two sides reached this understanding at the conclusion of the 11th session of the Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC).
Minister of Commerce and Investment Dr Majed Abdullah Al-Qasabi led a 35-member Saudi delegation. The session was co-chaired by Commerce and Textile Minister Pervaiz Malik.
Both sides agreed to hold exhibitions of new products in each other’s countries. The first-single country exhibition of Pakistani products in Saudi Arabia will be held in the second half of 2018. It was also agreed to review and simplify the procedure for the business visa issuance. The business visa fee will also be rationalised.
The JMC called for reactivating the Pak-Saudi Joint Business Council (JBC) by the first quarter of 2018. A commercial attaché will soon be designated at the Saudi embassy in Islamabad.
Islamabad stressed the importance of cooperation between Saudi oil and gas companies with their Pakistani counterparts to develop domestic oil production, including the establishment of refineries. Both sides agreed to expedite negotiations to finalise the memorandum of understanding between the central banks of the two countries.
It was also agreed that both sides will exchange and share security information and expertise in combating terrorism, organised crimes and money laundering.
The Saudi side said there is a royal decree to appoint a labour attaché in Pakistan whose mandate will be to approve labour training centres to train manpower in accordance with Saudi requirements.
With regard to the export of manpower to the kingdom, the Saudi side agreed to set up a training institute in Pakistan to help meet its human resource requirements. A delegation from the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development will go to Saudi Arabia early next week. The executive director of the National Vocational and Technical Training Commission has been invited to visit Saudi Arabia. Riyadh also agreed to visa relaxation and reduction in visa fees for Pakistanis.
It was agreed to encourage cooperation in the fields of scientific research, exchange of scholarship and experiences in health teaching and medical staff and exchange of student visits.
For focused and regular sectoral liaison, both sides agreed to nominate focal persons for cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, investment, education and agriculture.
The Saudi Ministry of Health will continue its cooperation in recruiting qualified and trained Pakistani medical personnel to work in the kingdom, focusing on consultants, specialists and nurses in critical health care.
The Saudi side praised Pakistani pilgrims. A draft agreement on the transfer of sentenced prisoners is likely to be signed at an early date.
The commission encouraged exchange visits of media officials and sharing of television cultural programmes and documentaries.
The Pakistani side requested Riyadh to increase the number of scholarships for Pakistani students in Saudi universities.
Pakistan will offer Saudis civil aviation training courses at the Civil Aviation Training Institute in Hyderabad on air traffic control, communication, navigation and surveillance engineering and aviation management.
Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2018