Prime Minister Gilani’s opening remarks at HLCC Session with Turkish Prime Minister
Following is the text of Prime Minister’s opening remarks at HLCC Session co-chaired by Pak-Turkish Premiers at Prime Minister’s House on 22 May 2012.
Excellency, Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey,
Members of the Turkish delegation,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome your Excellency and your delegation to Islamabad for the 2nd Meeting of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC).
The inaugural session of the HLCC, held in Ankara in 2010 was a watershed. The 18 MoUs/Agreementencompassing a broad range of areas, signed on the occasion, marked anauspicious starting point.
Today’s meeting represents yet another significant milestone in this process. As wemove forward, I believe that it is also an occasion to look back and take stockof the current status of the ongoing initiatives and as well as chart a newpath towards a more comprehensive partnership especially in the economic andcommercial domains.
While it is a matter of satisfaction that our trade volume surpassed US $ one billionfor the first time in 2011, yet the decline in the trade figures for the firstquarter of 2012 is a worrisome development. This underlines the need for takingadditional measures not only to arrest this trend but also to provide necessarystimulus for further intensification of bilateral commercial and trade ties.
This makes it even more imperative that facilitative economic framework providingmutual comparative advantage to our business communities should be put in place.It is Pakistan’s strong desire that a comprehensive PreferentialTrade Agreement (PTA) should be concluded at the earliest. It would serve as avehicle to substantially enhance bilateral trade. The two countries also needto discuss expanding the scope of exportable items. It is equally important tohave mutual exemptions from antidumping, countervailing & safeguard dutieswithin the framework of the PTA.
I would request Your Excellency’s personal intervention for an early agreement onthe outstanding issues.
Pakistan offers immense opportunities for foreign investmentsin diverse sector. We would welcome more Turkish investments in the fields ofinfrastructure, energy, housing communications and agro-based industry. We arewilling to consider offering special incentive packages and establishingtax-free investment zones for Turkish investors.
We should also encourage our central banks to facilitate opening of bank branchesin each other’s country. We are happy that the Central Bank of our twocountries concluded a Currency Swap Agreement last year which will providealternate trading facilities in our respective local currencies.
For promotion of economic and commercial relations, efficient and fast air, railand road links are essential. In this respect, the “Gul Train” project between Islamabad and Istanbul holds great potential to serve as a modern day “silkroute” linking the Asian heartland with Europe. We must encourage our private sectors to invest in the management andmarketing of the train operations, and upgrading of the railwaysinfrastructure. It is our desire that Turkey would take the lead on this project of immenseimportance for our common future.
Our excellent and brotherly ties need to be sustained and reinforced throughinvestment in our future generations. The two sides are working on acomprehensive Cultural Exchange Programme, which will provide a broad frameworkfor cooperation in the fields of education, culture, tourism and people topeople contacts.
A large number of Pakistani students are proud graduates of Turkish universities.However, there still exists a wide scope of further cooperation. Pakistan could, in particular, benefit from the excellencethat Turkey has achieved in its higher education system. Wewould, therefore, request enhanced scholarships for Pakistani students atUndergraduate, Postgraduate and PhD levels, particularly in leading science andtechnology universities.
We would also welcome establishing of campuses of leading Turkish technologyuniversities in Pakistan. We are ready to provide necessary support in thisrespect. Collaboration in the education sector should also be strengthened bysetting up joint techno-parks.
A positive momentum in our relationship has been generated through the HLCCmechanism. By building on this momentum, we should lay the foundation for asustained partnership for our future generations.
The 14th Session of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) heldyesterday in Islamabad has also covered useful ground. We look forward toreceiving a briefing from the two co-chairs of the JMC.
May I also like this opportunity to assure Your Excellency that Pakistan is ready to go an extra mile in supporting andimplementing the decisions that we take during this meeting.