ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has urged Canadian businessmen to explore investment and trade opportunities in the country and has sought greater market access to the North American nation.
Bilateral trade relations came up for discussion between Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik and Canadian Minister for International Trade Francois-Philippe Champagne in Ottawa on Tuesday. Canadian Minister for Immigration Ahmed Hussen was also present.
“Owing to its prudent economic policies, Pakistan has laid the foundation of sustained economic growth and macroeconomic stability. It offers attractive trade and investment opportunities to Canadian investors and, on a reciprocal basis, seeks greater market access for its products,” a statement issued by the Pakistan High Commission in Ottawa quoted Malik as saying.
The minister told his Canadian counterpart that under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) framework, Pakistan was looking for a level playing field for exports to the Canadian market and issues like travel advisory for visits to Pakistan and visa restrictions for Pakistani businessmen were hampering bilateral trade. He called for the immediate removal of these irritants in order to enhance the bilateral trade volume.
He called Pakistan’s investment policy, characterised by liberalisation, deregulation and privatisation, one of the most liberal in the region that provided an environment conducive for foreign direct investment (FDI).
Malik highlighted the manifold increase in FDI in the energy and infrastructure projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and international investments in the automobile, telecom, manufacturing and tourism industries in Pakistan.
He pointed out that Pakistan gave priority to Canada’s expertise in consumer products, industrial machinery, information technology, infrastructure, mining, oil and gas, clean technologies, agriculture and education.
“With a consumer market of over 200 million people and a large booming middle class, Pakistan is a promising market for Canadian goods, services and investment,” he said.
The Canadian trade minister emphasised that his country would like to increase trade volume between the two countries and all practical steps would be taken to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest. He said Canada sought to deepen relations with emerging economies and partners in Asia and Pakistan certainly provided opportunities for Canadian investors to take benefit of the increasing demand for consumer goods and services.
Separately, the Canadian minister for immigration briefed the commerce minister about the steps being taken to streamline visa processing for Pakistani businessmen, students and tourists.
Seeing great potential in Pakistan, he said Canada would like to ease and facilitate visa processing for all categories in order to enhance people-to-people ties.
Both the sides agreed to hold meeting of a high-powered joint working group during March 2018 in Islamabad to remove hurdles in the way of boosting bilateral trade and engage meaningfully to develop partnerships in the economic, trade, agriculture and investment areas.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 14th, 2018.