Pakistan eyes maritime trade with Oman

Published December 27, 2010

Gilani
Prime Minister Gilani has expressed keen desire to initiate maritime trade with Oman and make Gwadar Port fully operational. - File Photo

MUSCAT: Pakistan is looking forward to start passenger and maritime trade service between Gwadar and Muscat to enhance economic and trade ties, as leaders of two countries meet here on Monday to discuss whole range of issues.

Prime Minister Gilani, who has expressed keen desire to initiate maritime trade with Oman and make Gwadar Port fully operational, would also discuss ways to boost bilateral economic ties and explore new avenues of bilateral cooperation between the private sectors.

The joint working groups of the two countries would further study the prospects of maritime trade and passenger travel through the Gulf of Oman.

Apart from Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri, Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Nabil Ahmad Gabol, Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Khan Raisani, will accompany the Prime Minister and assist him in his talks.

According to maritime experts, the trade from Gwadar can benefit the two countries greatly as a medium ship to Muscat takes only hours to ply as compared to the distance between Karachi and Muscat, which is generally covered in around three days.

Pakistan's ambassador to Oman Sohail Amin told APP that Prime Minister Gilani's visit to Pakistan's closest Arab neighbour on Dec 27, was aimed at intensifying bilateral ties in trade, defence, banking, infrastructure development, energy besides seeking greater investment.

The ambassador said that Pakistan could utilize its manpower and expertise in energy, infrastructure and oil exploration in Oman. He termed the labour and manpower sectors as an attractive area of cooperation between the two countries.

He said that the Prime Minister's two-day visit was the result of painstaking hard work with a series of ministerial level meetings between the two countries throughout the year to explore more avenues of cooperation.

He said that work on inking an agreement between the Chambers of Commerce and Industries of the two countries was also in its final stages.

He said bilateral trade between the two countries had more than doubled in the last three years to around US 250 million dollars. Pakistan has been exporting its traditional items, including garments, textiles, footwear, fruits, surgical and sports goods to Oman, he added.

Ambassador Amin said Omani investors were keen to expand business in Pakistan. He said the Oman International Bank and Oman Oil Company were already working in Pakistan, while Omani investors had expressed interest in more sectors.

The two countries initiated their diplomatic relations way back in 1972, and have grown from strength to strength. The current visit is aimed at initiating a more robust relationship and will result in deeper commitment between the two sides for the mutual good of their people.

The last high-level visit from Pakistan to Oman was by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz in 2005, while Sultan Qaboos visited Pakistan in 2001.

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