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Pakistan offers free trade accord to S Korea

15 April, 2014

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday offered South Korea a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and strategic business partnership for the next three years and expressed the resolve that the South Korean investors would be provided with all the facilities in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif extended these commitments during a meeting with the Republic of Korea Prime Minister Chung Hongwon, who called on him along with a high-level delegation at the PM House.

Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan was happy to witness the progress and development of the Republic of Korea and they were interested to learn from the Korean experience.

"Moreover, the two governments must promote interaction and cooperation between their private sectors and regular interaction between the respective Boards of Investment and chambers of commerce and industry," he added.

While discussing the economic prospects, he said that it was heartening to note that the trade between the two countries had reached $1.6 billion in 2012. "Pakistan has proposed a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that covers trade, investment and services so that trade between the two countries could be further enhanced," he added.

Nawaz Sharif appreciated the 'Joint Business Forum' organised by KOTRA (Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency) and Board of Investment, Pakistan, on the sidelines of this visit and expressed the hope that as an outcome of the Business Forum, the Korean companies would be engaged in energy, infrastructure development, railways and telecommunication sectors. He stressed for preparing a Country Partnership Strategy between the two countries for the next three years (2013-15). "The Lahore- Islamabad Motorway bears testimony to the mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries and we want to replicate and enhance such cooperation in other fields," he added.

Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan offered huge opportunities to the Korean business companies in energy generation, including hydel, wind, solar, biomass and coal generation and Pakistan would appreciate if the Korean companies participated in initiatives such as the Gadani Power Park and Quaid-e-Azam Solar Park. He said that construction of offshore and onshore LNG terminals also offered investment opportunities to Korean companies and Pakistan would welcome and facilitate Korean capital and technology in these sectors.

He said that the Free Economic Zone, along with the Pak-China Economic Corridor, also offered investment opportunities to Korean investors. "In this Economic Zone, Korean SMEs can establish JVs in manufacturing sector to cater for a large and growing domestic market as well as Korean and regional markets," he added.

He invited Korean financial institutions to start their operations in Pakistan adding that opening of a branch of a Korean bank in Pakistan would boost business between the two countries.

Cooperation in science and technology, bio-engineering, information technology and exchange of human resources and other areas of common interest with Korea were also discussed. The PM thanked the Korean government for looking after 900 Pakistani students and expressed the hope for increasing scholarships being offered to Pakistani students.

The Korean prime minister thanked PM Nawaz Sharif, the government and the people of Pakistan for extending a warm welcome during his visit. Chung Hongwon said that Pakistan and Korea should expand their trade, economy and energy sectors and enhance the bilateral relations by increasing personnel exchanges in the private sector. Views were also exchanged on regional and international issues.

Earlier, the two prime ministers witnessed the signing of three MOUs between Pakistan and Korea on trade, industry and energy. The MOUs were signed by Muhammad Shahzad Arbab, Secretary Commerce from Pakistani side, and Han Jinhun, Vice Minister for Trade and Energy from the Korean side.

Before the delegation-level talks, the two premiers held one-on-one meeting. While welcoming the Korean PM, Nawaz Sharif said, "We are very happy to host you as the first-ever Korean prime minister to visit Pakistan since the establishment of our diplomatic relations 31 years ago. It is my government's resolve to strengthen and expand the relations with the Republic of Korea in all fields," he added. He said that the traditional cordial relationship between Pakistan and the Republic of Korea needed to be transformed into a substantive partnership in trade, investment, energy and infrastructure.

Later, the PM hosted a lunch in the honour of the visiting delegation. Dr Song Jong-hwan, Korean Ambassador to Pakistan, Cho Taeyul, Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Han Jinhyun, Vice Minister for Trade and Energy from the Chinese side, and Engineer Khurram Dastagir, Minister for Commerce, Ahsan Iqbal, Minister for Planning, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Syed Tariq Fatmi, Special Assistant to PM from the Pakistani side, attended the meeting.


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