ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and United Kingdom (UK) on Thursday agreed to stay engaged for exploring ways to increase bilateral trade and investment between the two countries on sustainable basis. 

Both the countries also discussed the ways to enhance the bilateral trade in the coming years. “United Kingdom and Pakistan enjoys very special historical, political and trade ties. UK is the biggest export destination of Pakistani products in Europe and is second biggest trading partner in Europe after Germany with bilateral trade amounting to 2.08 billion Euros,” Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik said at a business forum hosted in the honor of Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Malik said both sides needed to enhance contacts between the political leadership of the two countries to further strengthen the ties. “I am hopeful that this visit shall go a long way in building an effective and long term partnership between the two sides.” 

He further said Pakistan is pleased to note that the UK was going to adopt the EU’s GSP- Plus scheme even after Brexit and the cooperation between Pakistan and UK can continue in the fields of trade , human rights, climate change, narcotics control and good governance. Both the sides recognized that they needed to hold on to their shared values of democracy, free and fair trade and mutual respect.”

“Pakistan today presented many opportunities to foreign investors with its very liberal and open investment policy. Many UK-based companies are already working in various sectors in Pakistan ,” noted the commerce minister.

“There exists a lot of potential to enhance that cooperation especially in the field of financial sectors, software development, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods manufacturing, engineering, machinery and electrical equipment manufacturing,” he added.

He urged the UK companies to look for possibility of entering into joint ventures with the local entrepreneurs. The minister said that ‘One Road, One Belt’ (OBOR) vision to establish close land and maritime links between 60-plus countries across Asia and Europe presented huge opportunities for everyone and drew the attention of UK businesses towards it. The OBOR vision, of which China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a part, could contribute to regional and global growth by building infrastructure, physically integrating over 60 economies and focusing investment in regions with large latent economic potential. “We hope that UK companies with experience in building infrastructure and energy can find a lot of scope in CPEC project and join in this mega project that is going to enhance connectivity between many countries of the world immensely,” he said.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that London was open to business, investment , tourism and partnerships. “We want cooperation in every field for creating jobs and investment between both the countries.” He said London had diverse communities, from different religions and countries including Pakistan .

“We want to flourish environment for cooperation and people-to-people contact from both sides,” Khan said and added that women empowerment was very important for development and prosperity of any country.

Later, talking to media persons, Pervaiz Malik said, We discussed matter of bilateral interest and it was very reassuring for me to announce that there exists strong will and commitment on both sides to stay engaged for exploring ways to increasing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries on sustainable basis.”

“Both the sides agreed to continue cooperation in all fields, sharing their experiences through regular dialogue, enhanced political interaction to promote shared ideals of democracy, peace and harmony between different people,” he added.

PAK-UK TIES GAINING STRENGTH,

LONDON MAYOR TOLD

Foreign Minister Kh Muhammad Asif said Thursday that relations between Pakistan and the United Kingdom were gaining strength.

In a meeting with Mayor of London Sadiq Khan at the Foreign Office, Asif told him about Pakistan’s successes in the economic field and the regional situation.

“The foreign minister welcomed Mayor Sadiq and congratulated him on his effective leadership of a city like London with its multiple demands,” said an official statement. 

Mayor Sadiq explained his “London is Open” campaign and stated that London remained the best place to study and work.

He emphasised the deepening of relations between the two countries across a wide range of areas including trade , education, culture and the arts. A separate statement said that a reception will be held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today (Friday) to celebrate the 33rd South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Charter Day.

Ever since the establishment of SAARC, Pakistan has remained committed to the objectives of the organization as enshrined in its Charter and has always played an active role in the SAARC processes and activities, said the foreign ministry statement.

Pakistan will be hosting the 19th SAARC summit in Islamabad, it said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan , on behalf of the OIC, has demanded immediate end to violence against Rohingya Muslims and other minorities and urged the government of Myanmar to allow access to the United Nations Fact Finding Mission in the affected areas, grant immediate, safe and unhindered access to United Nations agencies and their partners for provision of humanitarian assistance in Rakhine State.

Noting the progress made bilaterally between Bangladesh and Myanmar for repatriation of Rohingya refugees, Ambassador Farukh Amil, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, in his statement at the 27th Special Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, observed that this ongoing violence had forced hundreds of thousands of innocent Rohingya women, men and children to flee into neighbouring states for refuge.

The HRC adopted a resolution which called on Myanmar to immediately cease hostilities against Rohingya Muslim population and ensure the safe and voluntary return of all refugees from Bangladesh.

Another statement by the foreign ministry said members of the Asia Group at The Hague had agreed to appoint Pakistan as a member of the Executive Council of Organization of Prevention of Chemical Weapons for the term 2018-2020.