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ISLAMABAD: The Turkey-Pakistan Business Council has called for an early conclusion of a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries in order to further improve the flow of trade and promote bilateral investments.

The council’s chairman Atilla D. Yerlikaya during a meeting with Board of Investment Chairman Naeem Zamindar on Tuesday, said that the FTA would have a high impact on trade flows as well as bilateral investments.

A comprehensive FTA covering commodity and services as well as investments will deepen economic cooperation between the two countries. Mutually agreed exceptions for certain industries can be identified within the scope of a comprehensive agreement, he said.

Having significant investments in Pakistan, senior Turkish business representatives from Anadolu Group, Zorlu Holding, Arcelik, Albayrak along with other representatives from health, construction and services industries shared their plans to enhance their investments keeping in view the country’s growth potential.

The council operates under the umbrella of Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK), a private sector institution, aiming to pave the way for development of Turkey’s economic, commercial, industrial and financial relations with foreign countries and international business communities.

He further said that he strongly believed that both business communities have to contribute to these negotiations in order to define the right scope to reduce bilateral trade and investment barriers.

The head of Turkish delegation said that DEIK extends cooperation to other countries through the business councils working in 127 countries and is eager to introduce the Turkish business community in Pakistan.

Earlier, Mr Zamindar informed the Turkish delegation that the government was encouraging investors to invest in Pakistan, especially in the nine Special Economic Zones (SEZs) identified in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

For upscaling investments and spur industrialisation through creating new industry clusters, SEZ law has been formalised to meet the global challenges of competitiveness. SEZ framework facilitates such parks with liberal incentives, infrastructure and investor assistance services to enhance productivity and reduce the cost of doing business, he explained.

He further said that Pakistan offers exemption from custom duties and taxes for all plants and machinery imported into Pakistan as well as income tax holiday for ten years in the SEZs. He invited Turkish investors to invest in all sectors of Pakistan, specifically in agriculture machinery pharmaceutical, mining, to further boost the investment and trade relations between the two countries.

He added that Pakistan needs a shift from resource-based and low technology exports to the adoption and development of medium and high-technology productions, and technological sophistication. Almost 80 per cent of Pakistan’s exports are resource-based items, he said.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2018