(Pakistan Point News - APP - 1st Augst,2016) Questioned on Pak-Turkish cooperation to fight the scourge of terrorism, he said, "Terrorism is a global scourge and should be countered globally." "Pakistan is a very important partner not only for Turkey, but for entire international community in our joint fight against terrorist networks. We appreciate efforts of the Pakistani authorities in dealing with this threat. We have exemplary cooperation with Pakistan in countering terrorism.
" He said both the countries had a strong legal basis for such a cooperation and the authorities concerned were in close contact with their counterparts in Pakistan. On signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Istanbul and Islamabad, he said Turkey and Pakistan had decided to sign a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement at the Fourth High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting held in February 2015 in Islamabad.
The official negotiations were launched on October 2015. From July 25 to 27, 2016, the third round of FTA negotiations was completed in Ankara. Thanks to the efforts of both the technical delegations and the strong political leadership of our countries, we came a long way regarding the ongoing process. The next round will take place at the end of this month in Islamabad. "In 2015, our bilateral trade volume was US$ 599.
7 million. Our exports to Pakistan were US$ 289 million, while our imports from Pakistan were US$ 310.5 million. In the first 5 months of 2016, compared to the same period of 2015, our exports to Pakistan increased by 39.6% and became US$ 151 million, whereas our imports from Pakistan decreased by 30.2% and realized as US$ 105 million. In this period, our bilateral trade volume reached US$ 256 million." He said even though there was a slight decrease in the bilateral trade volume in the first five months of 2016, "I believe that our efforts will pave the way for carrying our bilateral trade volume to higher levels in a mutually beneficial way.
" "We believe that this comprehensive FTA will also bring our countries closer by opening up new horizons in our economic and commercial ties. It will no doubt increase the bilateral trade volume and contribute to strengthened deep-rooted and strong economic relations," the minister said. He said additionally, the inclusion of trade in services and investment into the FTA will also serve to deepen trade and investment relations between the two countries.
"Therefore, I am confident that finalizing the FTA by the end of September this year, as it was decided by our leaders, will not only strengthen our trade relations, but will also contribute significantly to developing our bilateral investments," he said . Answering a question on Pakistan- China Economic Corridor, he said Turkey signed the "Memorandum of Understanding on Aligning the Silk Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the middle Corridor Initiative between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the People's Republic of China" on November 14, 2015 in Antalya, Turkey during the G20 Summit.
Turkey also welcomes the cooperation between Pakistan and China in that regard. We have developed certain projects such as the "Middle Corridor" linking Turkey to the Caucasus and the Central Asian Republics via crossing the Caspian Sea. Marmaray tube crossing under the Bosphorus Bridge has already been built and links Europe and Asia. Another big tube link under the Bosphorus named "Eurasia" is being constructed.
Additionally, the third bridge, three level Bosphorus Tunnel and the new international airport of Istanbul are also under construction and will all be parts of an intermodal transport linkage between Europe and Asia. Once the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway project becomes operational, an uninterrupted railway line will connect Beijing to London through the Caspian Sea and the Bosphorus. "We attach great importance to the utilization of the 'Middle Corridor,' which will constitute a cost effective and complementary route.
" "We believe that Turkey, Pakistan and China can collaborate closely in reviving the ancient Silk Road. Therefore a strong cooperation between these countries will bring successful results in aligning the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the Middle Corridor project, he said. He said Turkey believed that the Middle Corridor Initiative and the 'Belt and Road' will contribute to regional development, welfare, cultural exchange and enhance people-to-people contacts.
It will also provide new employment opportunities and energy security. "Thus, we support integration projects in the fields of transportation, logistics, investment, energy and trade that would contribute to the realization of the "Modern Silk Road." Pakistan's geographic location shall play an essential role in establishing both the Middle Corridor project and the Belt and Road initiative. The Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), where Turkey and Pakistan are founding members, is another area of cooperation between the two countries within the framework of Belt and Road.
"We are ready to work together with our Pakistani brothers. In this regard, we think that scheduled rounds of Istanbul - Tahran - Islamabad freight trains could be a good area of cooperation within the framework of Belt and Road." He said that a regular consultation mechanism should be established between the relevant ministries, particularly the Ministries of Transportation.