ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI  -   Negotiations on free trade agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Turkey would be concluded in June, followed by formal agreement to boost bilateral trade cooperation in different potential areas between the two brotherly countries.

Pakistan would finalize FTA with Turkey, under the Pakistan Turkey Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) plan of action, said senior official of Ministry of Commerce and textile here. He said Pakistan and Turkey had agreed for formalizing a Pak-Turkey Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) during the Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to Turkey in January this year and the committee was also formed to finalize the draft of SEF.

After the approval of the Prime Minister, the draft of SEF was sent to Turkey on February 20. Through the SEF, Pakistan would get tariff free market excess in potential market of Turkey to increase the bilateral trade between the two countries. The senior official said Pakistan and Turkey can increase bilateral trade in the near term to US $ 6,000 million from the current level of US $ 598 million.

He said Pakistan’s top 20 high-potential exports can go up from $ 400 million to $ 2,600 million while Turkey’s top 20 high-potential exports to Pakistan can rise from $ 200 million to $ 2,600 million. He said the country’s major exports to Turkey are denim PET, ethanol, cotton yarn, fabric and rice, garments, leather, carpets, surgical instruments, sports good, chemicals.

He informed that the two sides had discussions on goods, services and investment. After signing a new FTA, both the countries would be able to improve their trade balance, he added. He said that after the finalization of bilateral FTA, Pakistan would get market space in agriculture and pharmaceutical sector in Turkey. He informed that Pakistan’s major imports from Turkey included man-made textiles, towels, steel structure, tanning and plastic chemicals, processed milk and whey. He said that priority of the government was to promote trade liberalization for searching new potential markets in different parts of the world to increase the country’s trade.

Meanwhile, British investors have shown their interest in 26 high potential economic sectors in Pakistan with top priority to tourism, information technology, infrastructure, textile and real estate sectors.

This was informed by General Secretary, UK-Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UKPCCI), Barrister Waheed-ur-Rehman Mian, who is leading a delegation of his chamber, during a meeting with President M Junaid Makda and other members of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) at KCCI Secretariat here, said a press release on Thursday. He said British investors have already invested in various real estate projects in Gwadar and the delegation members were here to explore more investment opportunities in the sector.

The General Secretary of the UKPCCI, referring to the tourism potential in Pakistan, said that UK investors were looking forward to setting up resorts in some of the most scenic areas in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province with focus on Karakorum Highway which connects Pakistan with China.

“All these resorts, which we have planned to establish in different areas in KP will also have schools to be constructed by UKPCCI in respective neighbourhoods to give free education to the children of local inhabitants,” he added. Waheed-ur-Rehman said the UKPCCI also had planned to impart free technical education in Pakistan which would certainly help in improving the skills of Pakistani youth.

He said the investors from the UKPCCI were also currently constructing a high-rise building in Lahore while they were also looking into the possibility of constructing another high-rise building in Cantonment area of Karachi.

The UKPCCI was also keen to conduct language courses and teachers’ training programme. It would be offered either free of cost or at a very low cost.

A portal could also be provided to Pakistani youngsters who could route their innovative work through this facility to highlight their abilities, he added.

While referring to re-start British Airways flights from Islamabad on June 2, 2019, he was fairly optimistic that the airline would also restore its operations from Karachi as well.

While underscoring the need for having regular coordination between the Chambers of Commerce in Pakistan and the UK, Waheed-ur-Rehman informed that the UKPCCI now has a permanent office in London, which was inaugurated recently by Pakistan’s High Commissioner to United Kingdom, Nafees Zakaria.

KCCI President Junaid Esmail Makda said Karachi, which is the economic hub of Pakistan, offered profitable investment opportunities including joint ventures and also facilities for trade. This international city was attractive place for British businessmen.