Ambassador of Korea in Pakistan Dr Song Jong-hwan said that the first ever visit of Korean prime minister to Pakistan would open new avenues of cooperation between the two countries.

He was addressing the business and trade community at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry. He said that during the last 31 years, it was the first visit of top leadership of Korea to Pakistan. “I term it positive step and historic achievement for the promotion of bilateral ties.”

He hoped that the prime minister of Pakistan will reciprocate and visit Korea very soon to pave way for the visit of Korean President that will herald a new era of bilateral relations between Korea and Pakistan. Dr Song said that it was his third visit to Faisalabad and first visit to FCCI where he was interacting with the business community at the platform of FCCI. He quoted the visit of Korean prime minister and said that an MoU was inked for the cooperation in trade and investment sector. He hoped that it would help Korean companies come to Pakistan to harvest the benefits of its liberal economic and investment policies.

He said that total trade volume between Pakistan and Korea is US$ 1.5 billion which is far less than the potential of two countries. He said, “We must collaborate to increase this trade volume for the benefit of the two countries. Pakistan is the 4th major quality cotton growing country while Korea is producing best textile machinery. We can collaborate in textile sector to give boost to the economies of the two countries.” Regarding manpower, he said that Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency has established garment institute in Karachi which is equipping Pakistani youth with latest technologies in garment sector. He said that this cooperation could be extended to many other sectors of mutual interest. About security concern he said that Pakistan government was making sincere efforts to improve the overall law and order situation. He assured to convince Korean companies to come and invest in the country as the situation was gradually improving.

To a question, he said that Korea was also an agriculture country which gradually moved ahead by developing its light engineering sector and then heavy engineering and now it has entered into the high tech sector.

In his welcome address, FCCI President Suhail Bin Rashid said that in the decade of 1960, GDP rate of Pakistan and Korea was almost same but now the per capita income of Korea is US$24,000 as compared to Pakistan’s US$ 1,400. He said, “We should also learn from the Korean experience.”

Regarding law and order situation, he said that the government was making serious efforts to improve the situation. “We hope that our Korea friends would also help us to improve the overall image of Pakistan.” He showed keen interest in the purchase of second-hand textile machinery and said, “We should arrange frequent trade delegations to make further progress in this regard.”

He said that technical and skill upgradation programmes should also be launched with increased pace and speeds collaboratively. Pakistan has adequate skilled manpower and could assist South Korea to meet their manpower demand.

He said that Faisalabad has more than 2.5 million workforces in addition to huge number of semi-skilled and unskilled workers .He opined that Korea should take advantage of cheap labour from the area. He offered that FCCI is ready for arranging Korean language proficiency courses in collaboration with TEVTA.

He said that a large number of projects have already been executed in Pakistan with the financial assistance of Korea International Cooperation Agency. “In Faisalabad, we have dedicated TEVTA Textile Institute with state-of-the-art building which can be further promoted as ‘Centre of Excellence’ with the technical and financial assistance by the Korea Cooperation Agency. It is the initiative of FCCI and we are ready to share our ownership,” he added.

Talking to a delegation of University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Dr Song Jong called for cementing agricultural and academia ties between both the countries in order to create new business and investment environment and to take benefit from each other’s experiences.

He said that enhanced agricultural relations will open up new avenues of progress for the countries. He said that increased academia ties were essential to share the experiences of the both countries.

He said that new agricultural products should be exchanged between the countries. The meeting also discussed possibilities of establishing the farmers’ extension centre at the campus that will help promote the latest agricultural techniques for ensuring food security.

Meanwhile, UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad Khan sought assistance of Korea in potatoes seed. He said that lack of quality seed resulted in low per acre production. He said that collaboration among the educational institutions of both the countries will bring tangible results.