ON the first day of his official visit to Turkey on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif noted that the closeness in Pakistan and Turkey’s relationship is not reflected in trade relations and expressed the desire that the volume of trade between the two should go up to five billion dollars per year.
Given their historic and long standing relations firmly anchored in common faith, shared history and a glorious tradition of mutual support to each other on issues of core interest, there is no doubt that both the countries have a great potential for trade and economic relations which will be a win-win for both the sides.
Over the last few years, defence cooperation between the two sides has significantly increased with Turkey helping Pakistan build modern naval warships.
Time has come to move forward and diversify the cooperation in other fields of economy. To promote trade relations, the two countries need to remove all the obstacles by signing the free trade agreement which should be serving the interests of the businesses of both sides.
During President Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan in February last year, the two countries had also signed a strategic economic framework agreement that covers a broad spectrum of cooperation in areas such as science and technology, defence, tourism, education, health etc.
This agreement must not remain on the papers only but concrete/concerted measures need to be taken to implement it in letter and spirit.
We will suggest that working groups should be established to exploit the potential of cooperation in each sector.
The very decision of PM Shehbaz Sharif to relax visa restrictions for Turkish citizens is a step in the right direction as it will encourage not only the Turkish tourists to visit picturesque sites in Pakistan but also attract investment from major Turkish companies.
Our authorities concerned must apprise the Turkish companies about the investment opportunities that exist under the multibillion dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
Since both countries are eager for their publics to forge a connection, they should also create more people-to-people exchanges such as student exchange programs, conferences focused on public-private partnerships and workshops aimed at encouraging start-ups.