Ahsan Iqbal (Pakistan’s Planning, Development & Reform minister) visits Japan

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Reforms Prof. Ahsan Iqbal while delivering a key note address at the JETRO Seminar said, in 2014 Pakistan was the only place for the business in South Asia because all the other countries in the region would be busy in elections and transition.

The Minister highlighted the economic priorities of the Sharif government for making the country prosperous and middle income developed country. He shared the five year plan and vision 2025 with the Japanese businessmen. The government wants to establish trade and economic corridors through rail and connectivity to integrate the region of 3 billion people comprising of China, South Asia and Central Asia and to one large market and Pakistan stands in centre of this region, he added. Pakistan has the potential to become the hub of this market. Pakistan also is a country of 180 million people where 60% are young which is the main indicator for a lucrative market.

Ahsan Iqbal Pakistan's Federal Minister for Planning and Development visits Japan

He said Pakistan and Japan have enjoined very close and good political and historical relations. He emphasized the need to translate these relations into trade and economic fields as well, because volume of present trade between two countries does not correspond to the height of these relations.

Highlighting the priorities of the government, he said, energy is the top priority of the government because without energy the goal set up by the present government could not be achieved. In this context, the government has long term and medium term policies. In the long run, hydel power generation has been prioritized where we are seeking Japanese cooperation in building Dasu and Bhasha Dam which will generate 9000 MW of electricity in next ten years. In medium term, he said coal based power generations plants were being encouraged. The government has set up a power park at Gadani near Karachi where six coal based power plants using super critical technology from Japan would be established. These plants would generate 6600 MW of electricity. He invited the Japanese companies to invest in the energy sector which offers very attractive terms of incentives for the investors.

Referring to KCR he said that the Prime Ministers of the two countries during their meeting in New York agreed to move ahead with KCR project. He urged the Japanese government to provide funds for this project. This will create a new avenue of cooperation between the two countries. He said that the development is critical for consolidating the democratic gains in Pakistan where for the first time a smooth transition from one democratically elected government to another democratically government has taken place. A stable democratic Pakistan and Afghanistan were intertwined with the stability of region, he asserted.

Earlier, the Minister had a breakfast meeting with Mr. Hidelo Nakahara, Executive Vice President, Mitsubishi Corporation. He shared the Sharif government for power sector reforms offering one of the highest rate of return on investment. He said that companies like Mitsubishi Corporation who had been in Pakistan for decades need to be take first mover advantage. He also requested to help in reducing the perceptional gap about Pakistan by sharing their experience with other Japanese entrepreneurs.

Prof. Iqbal also visited the National Museum of Emerging Sciences and Innovation called Miraikan. Speaking with the Mamoru Mouri, Chief Executive of the National Museum, he said that the science and technology is the only hope to humanity which can resolve the emerging various problems such as climate change and warming. He said that during the last decade the green revolution has provided food security to the bulging population. He said that today’s world is a globalized one and any incident taking place in any part of the world affects the entire globe and science could solve such challenges. He appreciated the Japanese advancement in science, technology and innovation. He said that present Government attaches top priority to the science education in the country and wants increase enrollment of students in the science majors. Later on, the Minister had round of the Museum where he took keen interest in the cutting edge technology in the field of Robot, Geology and Medical Sciences.

During his meeting with Mr. Akihiko Tanaka, President Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Minister highlighted the new leadership in Pakistan had a strong business and economic background with the democratic dividend of smooth transfer of power. It was important to establish the link between the democracy and development. The new Government had re-introduced the five (5) year plan of priorities coherence to managing Pakistan’s challenges and to enhance reforms was added to planning and development. Pakistan’s program with IMF was proceeding smoothly. The Government’s manifesto was committed to reform the state enterprises improving transmission of energy. The Minister strongly emphasized the need for smooth, small and big businesses. He also stressed that Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) is flagship project as agreed between the Prime Minister of Pakistan and Japan on September 26, 2013 at New York.

Later in the day, the Minster had a meeting with the leading Pakistani businessmen and shared the details of vision 2025. He stressed on the importance of the expatriate community contribution towards development. He requested them to share the proposals for enhancing trade and investment with Japan.

Source: MoFA-Pakistan/Prof Ahsan Iqbal’s Facebook page

High level meeting to review Pakistan’s bid for EU’s GSP plus

A High Level meeting convened in the Foreign Ministry today reviewed the progress made in completing requirements for Pakistan’s participation in European Union’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus. Pakistan is seeking GSP Plus status to secure greater access for Pakistanis exports to the EU markets.

The meeting was co-chaired by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, the Honorable Speaker of the National Assembly who attended as a special gesture, and Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister for National Security and Foreign Affairs. The Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Tariq Fatemi, Foreign Secretary, Secretary Commerce, and senior representatives of relevant Ministries as well as Provincial Governments participated in discussions.

The Meeting stressed the need for fulfillment of all requirements in a timely manner, and identified a number of steps to be taken at the federal and provincial levels in order to ensure success for Pakistan’s bid for GSP plus.

(Source: Official MoFA-Pakistan Press Release)

Joint Statement on “Common Vision for Deepening Pakistan-China Strategic Cooperative Partnership in the New Era”

Pakistan China Relations
1. At the invitation of Premier Li Keqiang, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, paid an official visit to China from July 3 to July 8, 2013. This was Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s first overseas trip since taking oath of office and follows Chinese Premier’s visit to Pakistan in May 2013. These successive visits, in a short period of time, reflect the positive desire of both countries to further reinforce the existing brotherly and time-tested China-Pakistan relationship.

2. During the visit, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met with President Xi Jinping, held talks with Premier Li Keqiang, and met with Mr. Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also met with corporate leaders and leading members of business community.

3. The Pakistani Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong commitment of his government to further promote and deepen the bilateral strategic cooperation between China and Pakistan. The Chinese leaders appreciated that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had chosen China as his first destination for his visit abroad.

4. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif underscored that the recent political transition in Pakistan was a historic development which would create political cohesion, social stability, and internal growth. It will also improve governance and lead to sound macro-economic management thus creating an enabling environment for foreign investment in Pakistan.

5. The two sides reviewed with satisfaction the development of China-Pakistan relations, and were of the view that this relationship had acquired growing strategic significance in the emerging dynamics of 21st century. Both sides decided to continue to deepen the Sino-Pakistan strategic partnership in the new era.

6. Both leaders appreciated that Asia was the engine of global economic growth and more than forty percent of the global population resided in this vibrant and dynamic region. A major urbanization and technological advancement was underway in this region which would unleash enormous potential for regional economic development.

7. Both Pakistan and China recognizing the existing opportunities and the challenges, vowed to promote policies that can advance the cause of peace, co-operation, and harmony thereby creating a win-win situation in the region.

8. Both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to pursue people-centric policies that could mitigate poverty, promote social and economic development and diminish the roots of conflict.

9. The two sides decided to further deepen practical cooperation in all sectors and strengthen coordination and cooperation on international and regional issues according to the guiding principles of the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Good-Neighborly Relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan signed in April 2005 and on the basis of the existing close cooperation.

10. China reaffirmed that its relationship with Pakistan was always a matter of highest priority in its foreign policy, and it would continue to strengthen this strategic partnership. China appreciated Pakistan’s long-term, staunch support on issues concerning China’s core interests. China would continue to extend its full support to Pakistan in the latter’s efforts to uphold its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, while respecting the development path chosen by the people according to its national priority, and support Pakistan in maintaining social stability and economic development.

11. Pakistan reiterated that friendship with China was the cornerstone of its foreign policy, enjoying a national consensus. Pakistan appreciated the support and assistance of the Chinese government and people for Pakistan’s sovereignty and socio-economic development.

12. Pakistan will continue to adhere to its one-China policy, oppose Taiwan and Tibet’s independence and support China’s efforts in combating the “Three Evils” of extremism, terrorism and separatism. We regard ETIM as our common threat and stand united in combating this menace.

13. The two sides believe that maintaining the tradition of frequent exchange of visits and meetings between their leadership, and fully leveraging arrangements such as annual meetings between their leaders, is of great importance in advancing bilateral relations. They also agreed to enhance the role of mechanisms such as Foreign Ministers’ Dialogue, Strategic Dialogue and other consultative mechanisms between the relevant ministries and departments, so as to strengthen the strategic communication and coordination between the two countries.

14. Both sides reaffirmed that expanding bilateral economic relations was a matter of high priority. The two sides agreed that China is committed to realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation by accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development and earnestly pursuing the strategy to develop its western region. Meanwhile, Pakistan is committed to reviving the national economy and realizing its “Asian Tiger dream”. The development strategies of the two countries therefore coincide with each other. Both sides decided to further strengthen the ties of pragmatic cooperation between them, with a view to translating their high-level political relationship into wider economic dividends. To this end, the two sides will strengthen cooperation in trade, investment, energy, agriculture, mining, food security, environment, finance and other fields.

15. The two sides agreed to fully implement the Additional Agreement to Extend the Five Year Development Programme on China – Pakistan Trade and Economic Cooperation and the China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement; fast track work on the projects identified under the Five Year Development Program; hold the second phase of tax-reduction negotiations of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement on speedy basis; further liberalize trade, and advance economic integration between them.

16. Enhancing connectivity between China and Pakistan is of great importance to expanding economic and trade cooperation, promoting economic integration, and fostering economic development of the two countries.

17. To develop the Long-term Plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, both sides agreed to set up the Joint Cooperation Committee on the Long-Term Plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, with the National Development and Reform Commission of China and the Planning and Development Ministry of Pakistan as leading ministries, and secretariats established in both ministries. Ministerial officials of both countries held talks in Beijing recently. The Chinese side will dispatch a working group at an early date to Pakistan for further consultations.

18. Both sides agreed to start work on the Long-term Plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor on speedy basis. The plan will mainly include such areas of cooperation as connectivity construction, economic and technical cooperation, people-to-people and cultural exchanges, and exchanges between local governments and organizations.

19. Both sides agreed that they will focus on the following areas of cooperation in the near future under the framework of the Long-Term Plan for China-Pakistan Economic Corridor: start the China-Pakistan Cross-border Fiber Optic Cable project at an appropriate time, upgrade and realign the Karakoram Highway on fast-track basis, explore cooperation on solar energy and biomass energy, explore construction of industrial parks along the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, launch at an early date inter-governmental consultations to implement the Digital Television Terrestrial Multimedia Broadcasting (DTMB) in Pakistan, coordinate the commercial operation of TD-LTE in Pakistan, and enhance cooperation in the wireless broadband area.

20. Both sides will support enterprises of the two countries in conducting cooperation on establishment of industrial zones in Gwadar.

21. The Chinese side agreed to support the efforts of the Government of Pakistan in addressing its urgent energy needs. The two sides agreed to hold the third meeting of the China–Pakistan Joint Energy Working Group at an early date and deepen cooperation in conventional energy, renewable energy and other sources of energy.

22. China stressed that it will continue to encourage and support Chinese enterprises’ investment in Pakistan. The two sides agreed to speed up work on the China-Pakistan Agriculture Demonstration Zones.

23. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif acknowledged that a great number of Chinese personnel working on various economic projects in Pakistan were contributing to Pakistan’s economic development and were an asset both to Pakistan as well as the region. The Chinese side expressed its appreciation for the Pakistani side’s efforts to safeguard the security of Chinese personnel and institutions in Pakistan, and create good environment for deepening pragmatic cooperation between the two countries.

24. The two sides agreed to jointly carry out economic and technical cooperation in agriculture, health, education and public transport and other projects that benefit the people.

25. The two sides agreed to deepen cooperation between their financial regulators and institutions, and support their financial institutions in setting-up representative offices, branches or subsidiaries, and carrying out business activities subject to relevant laws and regulations.

26. The two sides agreed to continue the implementation of the currency- swap agreement.

27. The two sides agreed to enhance exchanges between young entrepreneurs, which will strengthen communication on trade and investment cooperation.

28. The two sides believe that enlarging and deepening maritime cooperation between the two countries was of great importance. The two sides agreed to enhance bilateral cooperation in the fields of maritime security, search and rescue and disaster relief at sea, combating piracy, maritime scientific research, environmental protection, and blue economy.

29. Both sides renewed their commitment to implement the Agreement on Maritime Cooperation signed between the two countries during Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Pakistan in May 2013.

30. Both sides reiterated the desire to implement the 2012-2020 Space Cooperation Outline Between China National Space Administration and Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission to further enhance bilateral exchanges and cooperation in this field. The two sides will take necessary measures to actively explore expanding air routes for passenger travel and cargo transportation, and increase the number of flights.

31. Both sides believe that infusing the narrative of Pakistan-China traditional friendship to coming generations would remain a priority. In this regard, both sides acknowledged the important role of parliamentary institutions and agreed on the need to further strengthen parliamentary exchanges. They will maintain the exchange of youth delegations, and strengthen cooperation in the training of young cadres. Both sides decided to celebrate 2015 as China-Pakistan Year of Friendly Exchanges in a befitting manner.

32. To promote cultural and social ties, the two sides agreed to encourage their cities/provinces to establish twinning relationships.

33. Recognizing the eternal and abiding significance of commonly held values, flowing from the rich cultural heritage of Pakistan and China, more Confucius Institutes will be established in Pakistan. Both sides will promote exchanges of scholars, academics and reinforce linkages in mass media.

34. The two sides believe that the exchanges and collaboration between the defense forces of China and Pakistan was an important pillar of their friendly relations. They highly commended the China-Pakistan Defense and Security Consultations Mechanism, and will maintain the momentum of high-level visits between the armed forces of the two countries, deepen cooperation in counter-terrorism personnel training, joint training, equipment and technology, and exchanges between military academies, and identify new areas for exchanges and cooperation. The two sides agreed to further enhance cooperation in defense technology and production.

35. China and Pakistan reaffirmed their commitment to promoting multilateral arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation measures. Both believe that global disarmament measures should not be discriminatory. They support universal and non-discriminatory prohibition and destruction of all nuclear weapons and reiterated their opposition to the weaponization of and an arms race in outer space.

36. The two sides support multilateral cooperation mechanisms in Asia, and take a positive view of each other’s participation in regional and sub-regional cooperation processes.

37. The two sides recognize that holding identical views on many international and regional issues of mutual interest, they would enhance close communication, while extending mutual support and collaboration in various multilateral fora including the United Nations, the Asia-Europe Meeting, the ASEAN Regional Forum, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the Istanbul Process.

38. The two sides stressed that they will enhance communication and cooperation on important global issues such as climate change, food and energy security and UN reform. China and Pakistan are committed to strengthening the solidarity and cooperation between developing countries and safeguarding their common interests.

39. The two sides believe that the evolving situation in Afghanistan has great implications for the regional security and stability. They emphasized that inclusive political reconciliation is a key step towards unity, peace and stability in Afghanistan. The two sides reaffirmed their support for the “Afghan-owned and Afghan-led” peace and reconciliation process, and will work with the regional countries and the international community to help Afghanistan achieve peace, stability and security.

40. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed gratitude for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation.

(Source: Official MoFA-Pakistan Press Release)

Adviser to PM Pakistan meets Chinese Foreign Minister

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs met Mr. Wang Yi, Foreign Minister of China today in Brunei Darussalam. Both the Ministers are attending 20th Ministerial meeting of ASEAN Regional Forum. The two Ministers expressed satisfaction at the state of bilateral relations which received impetus during the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to Pakistan in May and would be reinforced with the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to China this week. The visit will further reinforce the warmth, closeness and strategic partnership between the two friendly neighbors.

The Adviser highlighted the new government’s focus on revival of the economy for which China’s role will make a significant contribution. Pakistan China trade has already crossed $12 billion and the target is to raise it to $15 billion in the next two years.

The Adviser reiterated that China is and will remain the cornerstone and guiding principle of Pakistan’s foreign Policy.

(Source: Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Official Press Release)

Sartaj Aziz meets John Kerry

Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs met Secretary of State John Kerry today (2 July 2013) on the sidelines the 20th Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in Brunei Darussalam.

The main focus of discussion between the two sides was bilateral cooperation in the post 2014 period. The Adviser emphasized the need for holding the next round of Strategic Dialogue at Ministerial level between the two countries. The Strategic Dialogue process provides an institutional mechanism to strengthen bilateral relations action in several areas through different working groups. In this regard Pakistan is looking forward to Secretary John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan.

The Adviser to Prime Minister also highlighted that the main focus of the foreign policy of the newly elected government will be economic revival and socio- economic development. The two sides must make efforts to increase trade from the current level of US dollars 5 billion to dollar 10 billion in the next five years. The Adviser also stressed the need for greater market access to Pakistani exports to the United States.

Secretary John Kerry appreciated new government’s focus on the economy and said he accepted in that context the importance of greater market access for Pakistan’s exports to USA. He emphasized that improved law and order was also necessary for economic revival and larger foreign investment.

Mr. Sartaj Aziz expressed the hope that the two sides would be able to have a comprehensive discussion for cooperation in several areas during the upcoming visit of Secretary Kerry to Pakistan later in the month.

This was the first high level interaction between the two Foreign Ministers in which both sides agreed to work jointly for a fruitful and positive relationship.

(Source: Official Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press Release)

Joint Statement of PM Nawaz Sharif & PM David Cameron on Cameron visit to Islamabad

Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif meets UK PM David Cameron

Following is the joint statement between the Prime Minister of Pakistan and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom issued on June 30th 2013 at Islamabad by Pakistan’s Federal Ministry of Foriegn Affairs:

Prime Ministers Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and David Cameron today reiterated their confidence in the future of Pakistan and UK relations, committing to intensive co-operation as equals towards greater progress and prosperity. They agreed to find new ways to make the close and cooperative friendship beneficial for the people in both countries.

As the first foreign Head of Government to visit Pakistan since the new government took office, Prime Minister Cameron expressed his confidence in the future of Pakistan, congratulating its people and institutions on the steps they have taken towards a strong, stable democracy.

Building on the existing warm friendship and confidence in Pakistan’s economic future, the Prime Ministers focused on trade, pledging a new target of increasing bilateral trade to £3billion by 2015, up from their previous commitment of £2.5billion.

Over 100 British companies are operating successfully in Pakistan. This includes Mott MacDonald in infrastructure development; Unilever in consumer goods; and GlaxoSmithKline in pharmaceuticals. A major British company Orion Energy has concluded a joint venture partnership with Pakistan Petroleum Limited (PPL) to utilise Pakistan’s natural gas reserves to generate electricity. The second annual trade conference will be hosted this autumn in London to encourage more companies to follow their success. Both sides will encourage strong participation from the energy sector. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif pledged his government’s full support to creating the right environment to attract further investment.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif informed Prime Minister Cameron about his ambitious plans to enhance growth, create jobs and reduce poverty to create a brighter future for the people of Pakistan. There is now an opportunity to take tough decisions on solving the energy crisis, increasing trade and investment. The UK will continue to play its leading role in the international community to support Pakistan to enhance economic growth, including through increased market access to the European Union. Under the framework of the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue the two governments will continue their regular dialogue on economic reform.

Looking to the next generation, the UK and Pakistan will continue to work together to help Pakistan’s people fulfil their potential. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif reiterated his commitment to increase the number of children in school and quality of education in Pakistan, and welcomed a continuing, strong partnership with the UK to transform education in Pakistan. Prime Minister Cameron welcomed empowerment for the poorest through Pakistan’s increased funding for the income support programme and also recommitted ongoing UK assistance for the programme.

The Prime Ministers acknowledged the positive contribution of the British and Pakistani communities living in each other’s countries towards the development and prosperity of both countries. Prime Minister Cameron announced that the British Council would be opening a library in Lahore and a cultural space in Karachi. The UK and Pakistan are committed to fully exploiting the enormous potential in their relationship through strengthening practical cooperation in ways that are mutually beneficial. The ties that join the UK and Pakistan in an unbreakable partnership are as strong as ever.

Prime Minister Cameron paid tribute to the people of Pakistan who had sacrificed so much and still clearly rejected the terrorist violence and intimidation. The UK will work in partnership with Pakistan providing expertise in support of Pakistan’s developing strategy on counter terrorism. The UK will provide more equipment to tackle the scourge of improvised explosive devices and support Pakistan in improving the security of its infrastructure, including sharing the UK’s expertise in safeguarding sporting events.

Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif apprised Prime Minister Cameron about the ongoing Pakistan-India Peace process. They underscored the importance of peace, stability and security in Afghanistan and reaffirmed their support for an Afghan-led and Afghan- owned reconciliation process.

Intensive, practical co-operation will capitalise on the growing joint opportunities on trade, investment, energy, and in the cultural spheres. In the coming months, the Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Secretary of State William Hague will discuss specific measures through the Enhanced Strategic Dialogue which underscores the unbreakable partnership between Pakistan and the UK. There will be regular in-depth dialogue between Ministers, including the UK Secretary for International Development Justine Greening on UK development cooperation, and Home Secretary Theresa May who will intensify mutually beneficial co-operation. Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif accepted an invitation to visit the UK to carry forward the process of further enhancing cooperation between the two countries.