ISTANBUL / TURKEY: Pakistan’s growing Gross Domestic Product is becoming an attraction for Turkish companies as they scout for investments in the country, said Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey General Secretary Mustafa Mente.
“The potential of Pak-Turk relations is much more than what the bilateral trade volume suggests,” Mente told The Express Tribune.
Pakistan is among the first three countries when it comes to initial visits for any elected government of Turkey, he said.
“The good news is that many Turkish companies now have their presence in Pakistan and the country’s rising GDP is fast becoming an attraction for them to look for more business avenues,” he added.
Mente said the entire South Asian region, which includes Pakistan, India and Bangladesh is unique due to its huge population, almost 1.7 billion, and would be a choice for Turkish companies to invest.
But he said distance and cost of travelling will remain issues.
“We are also facing the same issue when it comes to the US markets, though there are a lot of opportunities for SMEs and other such businesses.”
Pakistan and Turkey are also in negotiation to finalise a Free Trade Agreement to boost bilateral trade. As per the Pakistan Business Council, the current level of bilateral trade between the two countries is $584 million, which has potential to go up to $5 billion.
Currently, Pakistan’s exports to Turkey stand at $391 million, whereas Turkey’s exports amount to $193 million.
In recent years, few Turkish companies have invested directly in Pakistan, particularly in Punjab, but that is more due to the government’s urge to replicate some Turkish models in the provincial capital.
The prime example is of Albayrak that is currently providing its services in transportation and waste management sectors. Some private groups have also invested directly in the electronic goods segment primarily to cover the region due to the upcoming China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which will connect the region via rail and road links.
Mente said that currently negotiations are under way for Foreign Direct Investments in textile sector particularly in fabrics and yarn; however, some technical issues remain unresolved.
“Both sides are interested in investing in the textile sector but we have to find common ground,” he said, adding that he was hopeful that the level of Turkish investments in Pakistan as well as Pakistani investments in Turkey will rise across all sectors including health and tourism.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2017.