LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Tayyib Erdogan Monday expressed strong will to promote trade and investment ties between the two countries.

The Turkish prime minister, who arrived here on a two-day official visit to Pakistan in the wee hours on Monday, had lunch at Raiwind residence of the Sharif family.

Both the premiers along with members of business communities of the two countries also held talks on promotion of trade and investment and discussed ways and means to boost bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

Prime Minister Nawaz said that Pakistan would extend every security and facility to the Turk investors while PM Erdogan assured to help Pakistan in every testing time. The Turkish premier said Pakistan is a close friend of Turkey and he assured Nawaz of full cooperation in overcoming the energy crisis.

Addressing the Pak-Turk Business Forum, Premier Nawaz said Pakistan and Turkey can work together on long term basis for economic growth of both countries. He said his country wants momentum of strong trade and business ties between the two countries.

Punjab Governor Ch Muhammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Turkish Ministers of Railways and Economy and Federal Finance Minister Ishaq Dar were also present among other distinguished guests.

Nawaz invited Turkish businessmen to explore the opportunities in Pakistan for investment in energy sector, agriculture, textile, automotive, communication, diary, tourism, infrastructural development and other sectors and told them that his government would ensure full protection and support to their ventures.

He said beating a vibrant heart, Pakistan today is ready to deliver on its promises and wants to march in tandem with the world on the road to progress and prosperity by shunning the narrow confines of the stereotype, and (it’s) a Pakistan that simply loves Turkey.

The PM said the presence of representative business delegation of Turkey depicts the confidence in the investment friendly business environment in Pakistan. He said with a view to achieving economic prosperity for the people, his government is pursuing a policy based on promoting sound macroeconomic policies to accelerate economic growth, alleviate poverty and create new jobs, wherein a pro-business investment policy remains a central plank of the strategy.

“The investment policy of the government provides for 100 per cent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital, tax breaks, customs duty concessions on the import of plant, machinery and raw materials. Special Economic Zones have been established with efficient infrastructure and one-window facility.”

Nawaz said his government has put in place a sound institutional framework to protect investments in the country. “We have revamped Board of Investment to provide you with one window facility for all your queries, issues and implementation of your projects. Moreover, I offer my own office for my Turkish brothers and sisters, should they face any difficulty,” he added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in his address said Turkey attaches high importance to promoting economic and brotherly ties with Pakistan adding, Turkish people regard Pakistan their second home. He expressed the hope that with the passage of time trade and business ties between the two countries would grow further. He thanked Pakistan government for boosting confidence of the Turkish investors and businessmen and sounded optimist that it would attract more Turkish investment to Pakistan.

The prime minister highly appreciated the excellent performance of Punjab Chief Minister, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif and added that after the completion of metro-bus project, Lahore has become a modern and developed city. He said that such projects should also be launched in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Erdogan, declaring Shahbaz Sharif his brother, said that Shahbaz Sharif is working with determination and commitment. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and Turkish Minister of Economy also spoke on the occasion.

Prime Minister Nawaz in his address mentioned about the severe energy deficiency in the country and said cognizant of its importance, the government has formulated an energy policy which envisages optimising the available resource base through use of technology in power distribution, controlling line losses and energy conservation and diversification of the energy mix by shifting to hydel and coal based technologies. He said on the side of human resources Pakistan is producing thousands of high calibre professionals and skill hands to provide for the industries and the business firms.

While appreciating Marmaray tunnel project in Istanbul and Istanbul-Izmir motorway, including the world’s second longest suspension bridge, PM Nawaz said these projects also epitomise a key element of our developmental strategy to propel economic activity through construction of infrastructure projects including highways and motorways, airports, shopping malls and theme parks. The planned Economic Corridor linking the Chinese city of Kashgar to the port of Gwadar, is another aspect of this larger strategy.

Nawaz Sharif said the planned building of high quality expressway between Pakistan and China as a modern equivalent of the ancient silk-route will also open up countless economic opportunities for the region and beyond. He said the Turkish expertise can perfectly complement our ambition in undertaking such projects. “We are open to competitive proposals for building infrastructure projects from roads to bridges in a public private partnership modality and shall safeguard your investments in Pakistan.”

The PM said the recently awarded GSP Plus status to Pakistan by the European Union, is a testimony to the confidence of the international market in the quality of Pakistani products. He said Turkish textile companies with their superior technical capabilities and investment capacity could explore this sector for joint ventures.

Nawaz Sharif said rapidly growing hotel and restaurant industry, resorts development and tour operations are the area where Turkish and Pakistani firms can also come up with joint ventures. He said his government would assure full support and special incentives to those Turks interested in exploring tourism sector.

He informed the guests that Pakistan is among top ten producers of the world for at least 25 agricultural commodities and also amongst the top Milk producers in the world and the Turkish agro companies with their expertise in food processing technology can find this sector very attractive for value addition and conversion of this “white gold” into cheese, butter and dry milk products.