Saudia extends support to Pakistan for free trade with GCC.

Commerce and Industry Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah has assured the Kingdom’s cooperation to Pakistan seeking Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and also welcomed the idea of single country exhibitions with the Islamic republic.

The disclosure came when Manzoor ul Haq, Pakistani ambassador in Riyadh, met Al-Rabiah on Tuesday afternoon and discussed ways to enhance bilateral cooperation.
The meeting was also attended from Pakistani side by Khayyam Akbar, deputy head of mission, and Waseem Hayat Bajwa, commercial attache, and by Taha A. Alshareef, GM (foreign trade), from the Saudi side.

“During the discussion, the ambassador sought Saudi support in the Pak-GCC free trade agreement, to which the minister assured an all out support of Saudi government,” Bajwa told Arab News.

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He added that during the important meeting between them, which was held here in the commerce ministry, the ambassador stressed the need for encouraging people-to-people and entrepreneur-to-entrepreneur interaction being pivotal to bolster bilateral trade relations.

The ambassador said that this can be achieved through measures like encouraging Saudi businessmen to visit Pakistan in order to further explore trade and investment opportunities and similarly facilitating Pakistani entrepreneurs with regard to multiple business visas for one to two years.

Haq mentioned to Al-Rabiah that this year one of the largest business delegations of 40 businessmen from the Kingdom will be participating in EXPO Pakistan being held in Karachi from Feb. 26 to March 1.

The Pakistani envoy also highlighted the importance of Joint Ministerial Commission (JCM) as an all encompassing platform, particularly with regard to the 10th session that was held here in April 2014 and will be followed up this year in Pakistan.

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Furthermore, with regard to the trade promotion, Haq propounded the idea of single country exhibitions both in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

“The ambassador briefed the minister the prospective investment opportunities in Pakistan particularly in the agro food and energy sectors,” Bajwa said.

Haq explained the strength of Pakistan in the skilled manpower and services sector like information technology and engineering to meet the impending requirement of Saudi manpower for mega projects, and proposed joint ventures between Saudi entrepreneurs with Pakistan government training institutes to set up vocational training centers.

Responding to the call, Al-Rabiah welcomed the idea of single country exhibitions and also proposed for specialized shows like Saudi pavilions in Pakistan expo, and instructed Bajwa in this regard to meet Ahmed Al-Haqbani, secretary general of the export development commission in order to formalize this business idea.

Regarding investments in the energy sector, the minister suggested that ACWA Power, a major water and power developer based in Riyadh, which has already made tangible investments in many Asian and African counties, could be approached.

For establishing joint ventures in vocational training centers, Al-Rabiah recommended a meeting with the head of the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation (TVTC).

Al-Rabiah also welcomed the new Pakistani ambassador on his important assignment as ambassador to the Kingdom.

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