ISLAMABAD: Britain is in talks to boost trade and security cooperation with Pakistan, Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday, part of London’s efforts to improve trade links with emerging market countries.
Britain has been seeking to bolster global trade ties following its June referendum vote to leave the European Union, with the government seeking to broaden relations with fast-growing economies outside Europe.
On a visit to Pakistan, Johnson said talks were progressing on plans to increase annual trade beyond 2.5 billion pounds ($3.11 billion) per year.
“Consider the size of the Pakistan economy, how fast it’s growing, look at the size of the UK economy, we could do so much better,” Johnson said in Islamabad before meeting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
The two countries have had strong cultural ties since Pakistan gained independence from Britain in 1947, with more than one million people of Pakistani origin currently residing in Britain.
Pakistan’s sputtering economy has rebounded in recent years, helped by improved security in the country, and growth is expected at just over 5 percent this fiscal year, the highest rate since 2008.
Economic expansion is set to increase due to a $54 billion investment from China in a network of road, rail and energy projects that will form an economic corridor linking western China with Pakistan’s Arabian Sea port at Gwadar.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s top foreign policy official, said the two nations were discussing how to improve security cooperation.
Aziz said Prime Minister Sharif has invited his British counterpart Theresa May, who visited India this month, to travel to Pakistan next year to further boost ties.—Reuters