• Says Turkiye’s companies contributed to Pakistan’s development
• Criticises past govts for delaying payments

ISTANBUL: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday spent his day attempting to woo Turkish investors to invest in Pakistan, promising them the government “would not tolerate” any red tape that causes problems for the investors.

The prime minister held back-to-back meetings with Turkish business­persons and investors before departing for Pakistan on Saturday night, culminating his two-day visit.

Addressing a Turkiye-Pakistan Business Council meeting organised by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkiye, the prime minister said the government would not “tolerate any snags and impediments” in the way of foreign investment.

He reassured that his government would fully ensure a “hassle- and red tape-free” environment for Turkish investors.

Criticising the past governments, PM Shehbaz said it was regrettable that in the past, Turkish companies investing in Pakistan were not given their due payments.

“Such lethargy and red tape were not acceptable to my government and people of Pakistan as they had benefited from the Turkish investment and support,” he said while assuring the investors that their issues and grievances will be addressed.

To further promote bilateral trade and business relations, the work on the ‘Trade and Goods Agreement’ will be expedited, he added.

Turkiye’s annual trade stood at around $250 billion and the trade with Pakistan was hovering around $1.5bn, which was “peanuts” considering the immense potential, he said, adding that an MoU signed during the trip will enhance the bilateral trade to $5bn in the next three years.

He urged Turkish businesspersons to invest in Pakistan’s evolving energy sector, especially the renewables and assured them of the government’s complete support.

Later, he met with leading businesspersons of Turkiye where the prime minister appreciated the contribution of Turkish business enterprises in the development and growth of Pakistan’s economy.

Meeting with President Erdogan

Earlier, PM Sharif held one-on-one and delegation-level talks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip.

During the talks, both sides reviewed bilateral relations, ongoing cooperation in trade and investment, education, connectivity and health, PID has reported.

The two leaders vowed to boost trade and agreed to implement the ‘Trade and Goods Agreement’ signed in August 2022.

The prime minister also expressed his profound condolences on the Nov 13 terrorist attack in Istanbul and reiterated support for Turkiye’s ‘fight against terrorism’.

After the meeting, the two leaders also held a joint press stakeout.

“In addition to reviewing the whole spectrum of bilateral relations, President Erdogan & I discussed ways and means to achieve the target of increasing trade volume to $5 billion in 3 years. We vowed to ensure effective implementation of Trade in Goods Agreement in this regard,” PM Shehbaz said in a tweet afterwards.

PM welcomes outreach to Central Asia

In another interaction with Economic Cooperation Organisation’s (ECO) Trade and Development Bank president, the prime minister welcomed the prospects of outreach to landlocked Central Asian Republics (CARs) for exploring wider economic and trade dividends.

The prime minister also suggested hosting an ECO member countries’ summit to further push economic activities and regional cooperation.

He said that economic priority was on the ECO’s agenda and it will also provide opportunities to developing countries like Pakistan.

While terming the regional connectivity with CARs a “game changer,” the prime minister adding the Gwadar port would serve as a hub for transporting gas to the world.

He said rail and road connectivity would shape the regional landscape by allowing countries with rich natural gas resources to export it to the world.

He also thanked the ECO Trade and Development Bank president for the €150m financial assistance, adding that the money will be spent on flood relief efforts.

Published in Dawn, November 27th, 2022

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