FAISALABAD: Australia has said that it will open a trade office in Faisalabad and immediately lower customs duties on imports from Pakistan – steps that are aimed at giving a boost to bilateral trade.
Speaking at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Thursday, Acting High Commissioner of Australia Paul Molloy also announced that his country would provide $100 million in aid for various development projects in Pakistan.
He promised that visa concerns, highlighted by FCCI members, would be addressed and asked the business community of both sides to try to deepen trade ties.
He assured that he would facilitate the visit of an FCCI trade delegation to Australia. Australia had a liberal investment policy and an open economy, he said.
Molloy said more than 100 students of Pakistan were getting Australian scholarships every year.
FCCI Vice-President Rehan Naseem Bharara, while highlighting the tremendous trade potential between the two countries, stressed the need for Australia to give special market access to Pakistan, which is suffering a lot as a partner in the war against terror.
In order to strengthen economic activities, he said, exchange of trade delegations and joint trade fairs were a prerequisite.
At another event, Paul Molloy, while addressing scientists at the University of Agriculture Faisalabad (UAF), affirmed that Australia would continue to support and develop the agricultural sector of Pakistan.
“UAF is working with different Australian organisations on various projects that will bring prosperity, especially for the farmers,” he said.
He asked the scientists to keep working with commitment and share their innovative ideas with Australia for attracting funds in order to excel in different sectors that would pave the way for development. “Idea is an issue, but money is not,” he remarked.
Speaking on the occasion, UAF Vice Chancellor Dr Iqrar Ahmad announced that Lorry Water House’s chair would be established at the campus soon to address genetic and breeding issues of various crops.
“UAF is a partner and beneficiary of the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research project and engaged in citrus and mango research activities. We need to expand our areas in order to address various issues including water, energy and climatic changes,” he suggested.
However, Ahmad pointed out that the same Australian research programme in India was quite diversified, covering a wide range of activities with a special focus on food security, water resources and climatic changes. He called for introducing the programme on the same pattern in Pakistan.
Ahmad said UAF would send 10 PhD students to the University of Sydney in the near future to strengthen their capabilities, which would help Pakistan cope with agricultural problems.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 8th, 2012.