Pakistan, Egypt vow to bolster bilateral trade ties to new heights

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari Monday urged for concerted steps to bolster the existing Pak-Egyptian relationship to new heights with  focus on their trade and investment ties. President Zardari said the Government and the people of Pakistan highly valued their relations with their Egyptian brethren. They were eager to translate the full potential of this relationship for the mutual benefit of the two countries.

The President said this during one-on-one meeting with Egyptian President Dr. Mohamed Morsi followed by delegation level talks at Aiwan-e-Sadr on Monday.

Briefing about the two rounds of talks, Spokesperson to the President Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the two leaders held wide-ranging discussions on bilateral, regional and international issues and the situation in the Middle East.

President Zardari while warmly welcoming Dr. Mohamed Morsi on his maiden visit to Pakistan congratulated him on the success of peaceful struggle for democratic change in Egypt and lauded his efforts for democracy, rule of law and respect for human rights in Egypt.

The President on the occasion wished every success to the government and the people of Egypt in realizing the dream of a free, democratic and prosperous Egypt in a peaceful region and peaceful world.

He said that Pakistan and Egypt enjoy traditional friendly relations which is rooted in common faith and cultural affinities.

As an important Islamic country Pakistan considers Egypt an important player in the region as well as in the Islamic world, the President said.

President Zardari said Pakistan desired to expand, diversify and further strengthen its relations with Egypt in all fields of bilateral relations.

Egyptian President Morsi expressed his deep desire to cultivate close relations with Pakistan and stated that both countries were two pillars of the Islamic World which have an important role to play in the Ummah as well as in the region.

The Spokesperson to the President Farhat Ullah Babar said that the two leaders agreed to hold bilateral summit on biennial basis alternatively in Pakistan and Egypt.

He said President Zardari expressed confidence that the mechanism would not only boost the bilateral relations but would also give two countries an opportunity to co-ordinate on their positions on important regional and international developments.

The two leaders also agreed to the holding of the 4th session of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) in Islamabad later this year. They called for increased people to people contacts which they believed was extremely important in cementing the bonds of friendship between the two countries.

Discussing bilateral relations, the two leaders expressed satisfaction on the current state of bilateral ties and urged the need to further expedite efforts to fully realize the true trade potential by promoting greater business delegations exchanges, investments and facilitating the entrepreneurs.

The President on the occasion highlighted the various incentives and facilities being offered to the investors which included investment in all the economic sectors, allowing 100% foreign equity, no limit on foreign investment, equal treatment to foreign and domestic investments, complete ownership of the businesses, allowing free repatriation of profits and capitals besides generous tax and customs incentives for importing raw materials, plant and machinery into Pakistan.

He invited Egyptian investment in key sectors of economy including Infrastructure, energy, mining, textile, real estate and tourism.

He also invited Egyptian investors to avail the huge incentive packages being offered to foreign investors and entrepreneurs for investment in the Special Economic Zones in various parts of the country.

President Zardari expressed hope that various MoUs and agreements inked Monday in different fields would give further impetus to the trade and investment ties hence jacking up the current bilateral trade volume from $400 million to new heights.

He also proposed to finalise Free Trade Agreement between the two countries, which he said, would help increase the quantum of bilateral investment.

Discussing regional situation, President Zardari said that at this difficult juncture while the Muslim and the Arab world is facing great challenges and witnessing changes, the Muslim Ummah must shun differences and forge unity.

On situation in Syria, President Zardari said that Pakistan and Egypt should work together closely for the common good of the Ummah and for peace in the region.

He urged for working together to end the bloodshed in Syria and to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.

President Zardari said, “Pakistan believes that Syria’s territorial integrity and sovereignty must be respected.”

He said that any outside interference would only complicate a complex situation and will have serious consequences for the neighboring countries.

He stated that the drive for peace in Syria must be led and owned by the Syrian people and offered Pakistan’s readiness to play its role in finding a peaceful solution of the Syrian crisis.

The Spokesperson said that President Zardari while appreciating Egypt for supporting the causes of the Muslim Ummah hailed the role being played by Egypt for promoting regional peace and stability.

The two Presidents also witnessed the signing of five Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) and one Executive Programme for further promoting cooperation between the two countries in the fields of postal services, Merchant Shipping, investment, Media cooperation, Science and Technology and Small and Medium enterprises development.

The MoUs signed Monday between the two countries pertains to the cooperation in the field of Money Orders and International Postal services, Cooperation in the field of Merchant Shipping, Cooperation between Board of Investment (BOI) of Pakistan and General Authority of Free Zones and Investment (GAFI) of Egypt, Cooperation between Middle East News Agency (MENA) and Associated Press of Pakistan(APP) and cooperation between Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority of Pakistan and Special Fund for Development (SFD) of Egypt.

The two countries also signed 3rd Executive Programme for Scientific and Technological cooperation between Pakistan and Egypt for the years 2013 to 2015.