Turkiye keen to expand trade with Pakistan

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ISLAMABAD: As Pakis­tan and Turkiye prepare to conclude the Trade in Goods Agreement (TGA) next month, Ankara is keen on increasing the number of flights from the three existing cities and adding two more destinations in Pakistan while a power distribution company wants to invest in Lahore.

Under the agreement, bil­a­teral trade will be incre­a­sed to $5 billion in three years from about $1bn in 2021.

Senior government officials told Dawn that relevant ministries and agencies were engaged in finalising a visit of the Turkish trade minister to Islamabad early next month along with a large business delegation. The guest minister may sign the TGA, an official said, adding that it was being finalised at the moment.

The two governments had agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to Turkiye early this month to enhance bilateral trade to $5bn in three years from the present $1.1bn.

The Prime Minister Office (PMO) and the commerce ministry are currently in the process of creating a joint task force comprising relevant politicians, officials and eminent businessmen to achieve the $5bn trade target.

Simultaneously, the Planning Commission, Board of Investment (BOI) and CPEC Authority are also working closely to examine how Turkiye can benefit from CPEC for which the foreign ministry has also been asked to discuss the matter with China at the relevant forums.

Informed sources said Zorlu Energy Group, which currently operates about 55mw renewable energy project in Pakistan, had shared with Prime Minister Sharif during his recent visit that it had a power distribution company which it wanted to bring to Lahore and was interested in setting up electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities in Pakistan.

The sources further said Turkish Airlines had officially requested Islamabad to allow it to increase the frequency of flights from three existing stations – Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad – and also add two more stations – Sialkot and Faisalabad – to its flight portfolio.

Secondly, it had sought permission to ‘maintain profits earned in Pakistan in foreign exchange accounts and repatriate it to Turkiye’.

The Aviation Division, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Ministry of Finance and BOI were looking into these matters.

Officials said the two sides were working closely on convening the 7th High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) – led by the two prime ministers – in September this year in Islamabad to sign about seven agreements and finalise other pacts and memorandums of understanding.

Before that, the two sides have to review the implementation status of the existing agreements as well as the strategic economic framework (SEF) and identifying new areas of cooperation in the SEF.

Some of the upcoming agreements pertain to highway engineering between the Turkish ministry of transport and infrastructure and Pakistan’s ministry of communication, technical cooperation between the central banks, treasury and finance authorities in debt management and knowledge sharing, cooperation in urbanisation, climate change and environment and housing sector investment.

Pakistani authorities are seeking Turkish expertise on how to improve Pakistan’s entire business ecosystem by utilising Turkish experience with the European Union.

Meanwhile, the ministries of railways and commerce have been asked to look into the sustainability of Islamabad-Tehran-Istanbul (TI) train project and identification of impediments.

The upcoming business delegation would also include top Turkish companies, led by a leading businessman-cum-politician Burhan Kayaturk – a graduate of Lahore University of Technology.

As advance consideration, a leading firm Siyahkalem has proposed investments in solar, wind and hydropower sector besides low cost housing through the Naya Pakistan Housing Development Authority.

Albayrak which has been engaged in Pakistan waste management and transport sectors in some of the major cities in Punjab is also interested in expanding to other provinces while Arcelik is looking into development of the technology sector. Also, another firm, Hayat Kimya, is seeking resolution of its industrial problems in Faisalabad where it had set up a factory of paper goods and diapers a few years ago but did not go well with the provincial government during the previous setup.