ISTANBUL - Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday invited the Turkish businessmen and entrepreneurs to tap and explore vast investment opportunities that existed in Pakistan, particularly in the areas of energy, housing, construction and infrastructure, textile, agro industry and oil and gas.

“Pakistan lies at the crossroads of South, Central and West Asia. Being a market of more than 180 million people, our human resource capital, comprising a youthful, educated and skilled work-force, is second to none in the world”, he said while addressing the Pakistan-Turkey Trade and Investment Forum here.

The Prime Minister said, “Pakistan is also endowed with rich and untapped natural resources. Our coal reserves in Sindh are one of the largest in the world”.  All these advantages coupled with a friendly investment policy offers ideal opportunities for investment in Pakistan, he added.

He said that the present government’s primary purpose was to create a conducive environment for trade and investment.

“We have a liberal investment policy, which includes 100 per cent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital, tax breaks, customs duty concessions on import of plant and machinery and raw materials.”

The Prime Minister said special economic zones had been established with efficient infrastructure and one window facility and more such zones were in the offing.

He said Turkey and Pakistan enjoyed deep-rooted relations, underpinned by eternal bonds of amity and brotherhood.

The centuries old love and affection that existed between the people of Pakistan and Turkey, was unmatched, he said.

“We have a spiritual communion exemplified by the poetry of Allama Muhammad Iqbal and Maulana Jallaluddin Rumi.”

Prime Minister recalled that this year had been a watershed for democracy in Pakistan, as for the first time, a peaceful transition from one elected government to another had taken place.

He said in the historic general elections held in Pakistan in May this year, the people of Pakistan gave a clear mandate to his party and he was humbled by the trust and confidence reposed in him by the people of Pakistan. “It has reinforced my resolve to serve the nation, with dignity and devotion”, he added.

He said, “Pakistan has had its share of challenges.  However, the situation is looking up. I have no doubt that our today is better than yesterday and tomorrow would be even brighter.  The agenda before my government is therefore broad and urgent, focusing on the welfare of the people of Pakistan.”

Prime Minister said: “Our vision is a new Pakistan - a Pakistan which is at peace within and peace outside, especially with its neighbours; a Pakistan which is business friendly; a Pakistan where foreign investors would feel safe and secure; a Pakistan which is modern, progressive and forward looking.”

He said that the present government’s foremost priorities included good and accountable governance; creation of a peaceful and secure environment; economic revival; energy security; poverty alleviation and creation of new jobs.

“The aim of my government is to increase GDP gradually to 7 per cent, enhance foreign exchange reserves to over US $ 20 billion, reduce public debt by 57 per cent of the GDP and to increase investment to GDP ratio to rise to 20 per cent”, he added.

The Prime Minister drew the attention of Turkish entrepreneurs to the recent ratings released by the Standard & Poor and Moody, in which they have reposed confidence in Pakistan’s economy, by rating Pakistan from a negative of 34 to a positive of 2.

He said since socio-economic development was the priority of his government, the energy sector topped this socio-economic agenda.  “We have formulated an energy policy with the consensus of the provincial governments.”

The Prime Minister said the present government was also taking steps to diversify the energy sector, including increase in power generation, use of technology in power distribution, controlling line losses and energy conservation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday stressed on initiating joint business ventures between Turkish and Pakistani companies. He expressed the hope that joint ventures by Pakistani and Turkish companies in other countries would result in mutual financial benefits and further strengthen cooperation between the two brotherly countries. The Prime Minister stated this while talking to Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and businessmen of leading Turkish companies here.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday visited Turkey’s low cost housing project TOKI, with a view to replicate the project in Pakistan.

Turkish Minister for Housing Erdogan Bayraktar briefed the Prime Minister about the housing project and told that the project constructs houses for the low income families at affordable prices.

He apprised the Prime Minister that under this project, Turkey’s slum areas had been developed into beautiful residential schemes.  He expressed the interest of Turkish govt to invest in Pakistan’s housing sector.

Nawaz said that he had decided, during the visit of Turkish housing delegation to Pakistan, to see the project himself.

He appreciated the progress made by the Turkish government in this sector and added that Pakistan is also facing acute shortage of housing facilities and Pakistan could learn from the experience of Turkey.

The Prime Minister said that Pakistan’s economy provides vast opportunities of investment in all sectors including housing. He invited the Turkish businessmen to visit Pakistan and invest in the housing sector.