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Last Updated:[20-10-2009 01:02:13 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Trade is Top Priority to Pakistan Now

tradenews Reeling under the bogey of growing militancy and terrorism, Pakistan is making a fresh effort to engage with countries which are interested to do business with them. The recent engagements with Cuba, Italy and South Korea besides initiations on FTA talks with the EU obviously demonstrate that Pakistan is looking for trade over aid.

When the democratic government assumed office after a long gap of military rule last year, the Pakistani government under the leadership of Asif Ali Zardari had to swallow straight the fact that there was no money in the treasury to run the government machinery. Soon after becoming the president of Pakistan, Zardari made a whirlwind trip around the world seeking aid, but along with some aid from well wishing countries, his trip brought back home the bad name of indulging in a begging spree.

Lately, Pakistan is forced to depart from the old mantra of seeking aid, every now and then, as international monetary help is becoming difficult to come by particularly due to deteriorating brand name of the country. In such a scenario, the new administration has eventually realized economic growth is the only contraceptive to terrorism, militancy and quasi-military rule the country is facing today.

In a recent meeting between Federal Minister for Commerce of Pakistan, Makhdoom Amin Fahim and the Cuban Ambassador, Gustavo Machin Gomez has agreed to remove bottlenecks in relations to promote trade between both countries. In addition, the Pakistani minister received an invitation from the Cuban Ambassador to participate in the forthcoming International Trade Fair to be held in Cuba, a platform that would help Pakistan to engage with other Latin American countries.

Likewise, the Chairman, Board of Investment (BoI) of Pakistan Saleem H Mandviwalla informed that the country had received a nod from the Italian government in providing a credit line equivalent to $10bn for Italian investors willing to invest in Pakistan. Mandviwalla said that this credit line had been promised by the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in response to a request by the President Zardari during a bilateral meeting in Rome.

Besides, the chairman said his talks with the leading South Korean firms including Daewoo, Hyundai, LOTTE and K Water were fruitful, and they were keen to invest in Pakistan. The LOTTE has shown interest in investing about $10bn in Pakistan by way of acquisitions in next five years while K Water will construct dams and Korean Electric Power Company (KEPCO) will be generating and distributing power.

Pakistan after distancing a prospective huge trade partner, India by not taking appropriate action against the perpetrators of last year’s Mumbai attack and alleged abetting of non-state actors, who engage in terrorist activities in India, is in a haste to find new trade partners to keep its economy ticking over. Pakistan’s upcoming FTA talks with the EU which will take place after repeated requests from the former, is a strong indication that Pakistan is serious about prioritizing trade over aid especially after losing its neighbouring trade potential.

By Jose Roy

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