ISLAMABAD (Pakistan Point News - APP - 1st Augst,2016) : Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, who is arriving here Monday night on a one-day official visit to Pakistan, said the excellent bilateral relations are being transformed into economic partnership for the mutual benefit of both countries. "The excellent bilateral relations are already being transformed into a vibrant economic partnership as both countries want to build strong and mutually advantageous relations," he told APP in a wide-ranging exclusive interview.
Mevlut Cavusoglu said bilateral relations and regional developments will be on the agenda during his visit to the Federal capital. Turkey and Pakistan enjoy deep-rooted and time-tested relations of brotherhood, he added. "We are not geographically neighbors, but the affinity between Turkey and Pakistan is unique, since the close ties between our countries derive its strength from the brotherly relations between our peoples.
" To a question he said the potential for economic cooperation and integration between Turkey and Pakistan "has not yet been fully tapped" despite similar economic structures and efforts of entrepreneurs of the two countries. Cavusoglu said a major reason for this was weak logistics connections. "I believe that strengthening logistics connectivity between the two countries and further to Eurasia will bring a strong impetus to the integration between the two countries.
We are working on increasing our transport connectivity by all means. Flights have been increased and need to be increased even further." He said that container train service on the Istanbul-Islamabad corridor would provide "a fast, reliable and low-cost logistics alternative that has a potential to boost trade relations." BALO (Great Anatolia Logistics Organization) is undertaking feasibility studies for strengthening coordination and initiating further investments for this train service.
'Road Transport Joint Commission' between the two countries will hold its second meeting in Islamabad this month. In this regard, Pakistan's adherence to International TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) system in 2015 is an important step for the regulation of road transport. The Turkish foreign minister said people-to-people connections were also of great importance for fostering connectivity and integration between Turkey and Pakistan.
Turkey-Pakistan Business Council and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey are closely cooperating with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry to provide platforms for increasing interaction between the business communities. Turkish and Pakistani business communities are also cooperating at the regional and trilateral level in the organizations and mechanisms such as the Federation of D-8 Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Chambers of Commerce (ECO CCI) and Istanbul Forum for Economic Cooperation between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"To foster entrepreneurship and innovation in three countries and the relations between young entrepreneurs, the Forum aims to establish business incubation centers similar to GARAJ incubation center in TOBB University of Economics and Technology with the assistance of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA)." Under the framework of 'Turkey-Pakistan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council' working groups have been established on industry, trade and investment, banking and finance, culture and tourism and communications-railways.
Holding of trade fairs, exchange of trade delegations, technical assistance and scholarship programmes should be fulfilled to enhance bilateral trade, the Turkish foreign minister said. He said the trade volume with Pakistan exceeded US$ 1 billion in 2011. "Unfortunately, it decreased to US$ 599.6 million in 2015. We need to increase our trade volume which is far below the potential. In this regard, diversification of our trade is essential.
" The signing of a Free Trade Agreement without delay, he said, would also make a significant contribution to the bilateral trade while the two sides were considering opening trade centers in each other' countries. He said Turkish companies' investments in Pakistan currently stand at US$ 900 million. There were various areas for Turkish investors - to explore in the vibrant and potential sectors of tourism, information technology, food processing, agro-based products, dairy development, hotel industry and resorts development.
Pakistan has its own energy resources such as hydro-electric, coal, oil and natural gas, shale gas, and also alternative energy resources such as solar and wind. Turkish companies that have experience in energy projects around the world, have already been involved in some of these fields in Pakistan with successful results. "Energy is a field where we expect more Turkish companies to participate," the minister said.
He said Pakistan was the world's fourth largest producer of milk, fourth largest holder of livestock, fifth largest producer of wheat, among top rice producers and of course in mango production as well. "Turkey has made important reforms in agriculture and has a very developed food processing industry. Not only can we trade with each other, but also we can bring know-how and process agricultural products in Pakistan, for exports to third countries.
" He said Turkish textile companies with their developed technical capabilities and investment capacity were also encouraged to explore this sector for joint ventures. Infrastructure is another area where Turkish companies have extensive international experience. Turkish contractors have undertaken 8,693 projects in 107 countries with a total value of US$ 322.6 billion. At present 42 Turkish companies are included among the 'Top 250 International Contractors List' with an annual turnover of US$ 19.
3 billion in 2015. "With this figure Turkey ranked second in the world after the People's Republic of China. On the other hand Turkey is among the world's top 12 producers of building materials such as cement, glass, steel and ceramic tiles. Despite the effects of global crisis in the international markets that have been felt in 2008 and aftermath, Turkish international contracting services fared quite well in this period." Pakistan is in the process of upgrading and expanding its infrastructure. In fact, many challenges faced today in the field of energy and economy are related to lack of investment in the past in dams, roads and railways. This is another area where our business communities can work together.