Turkey and Pakistan want to increase bilateral commercial and economic ties to the level of their political relations to fully realise their immense potential, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Turkey-Pakistan Business and Investment Forum in Islamabad recently. He was on a two-day official visit to Pakistan last week—the second since he became president.
Ankara and Karachi agreed to formulate a declaration of an economic framework to increase bilateral trade volume to $5 billion from the current volume of $800 million.
The two countries have seen their trade volume go up from $600 million to about $800 million over the last five years.
"I frankly do not plan for trade volume between Turkey and Pakistan, with a combined population of around 300 million, to stay at $804 million. We should first rapidly bring our bilateral trade to over $1 billion and then to our target of $5 billion," he was quoted as saying.
"Despite the increasing trade and investments recently, unfortunately, we see that we are far behind our potential in this area," Erdogan said, stressing the strong drive of both countries' political leadership to support the business world to propel ties to the level they deserve, according to Pakistani media reports.
A large Turkish business delegation, comprising leading business representatives from engineering, energy, tourism, construction, defence, automotive, chemicals, information technology and other sectors, accompanied the president during the visit.
Abdul Razak Dawood, adviser to the Pakistani prime minister on commerce and investment, was cited by a news agency as saying that Pakistan and Turkey will begin negotiations to finalise a free trade agreement in April.
Turkey and Pakistan are engaged in the Strategic Economic Framework (SEF), which aims to boost the bilateral trade volume. Last year, Ankara presented its proposals on the SEF to Islamabad to expand the bilateral trade volume five-fold from its existing level.
The SEF includes some 71 actionable items, including a free trade agreement, technology transfer, capacity building and defence cooperation.
There are 158 companies with Pakistani capital in Turkey. The total investment of these firms has reached nearly $100 million. Seventeen Turkish companies are operating in Pakistan.
Fibre2Fashion News Desk (DS)