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ISLAMABAD, Dec 7 (APP):Minister for Commerce and Textile, Muhammad Pervaiz Malik on Thursday said the United Kingdom (UK) and Pakistan enjoyed very special historical, political and trade ties.
“The UK is the biggest export destination of Pakistani products in Europe and is second biggest trading partner in Europe after Germany with bilateral trade amounting to 2.08 billion Euros, Minister for Commerce said this in welcome address to business forum hosted by his ministry in the honor of Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who is visiting Pakistan from December 6 to 8.
High Commissioner to UK in Pakistan, ministers, parliamentarians, diplomats, businessmen and senior government officers attended the dinner.
In his speech, Pervaiz Malik said: ”We held talks and had an overview of our bilateral trade and investment and discussed ways for enhancing it substantially in coming years.
He said that both sides needed to enhance contacts between the political leadership of the two countries to further strengthen the ties. “I am hopeful that this visit shall go a long way in building an effective and long term partnership between the two sides.”
The world is passing through a difficult phase right now, the political leadership of the world has great responsibility on its shoulders to steer the ship peacefully through the troubled waters, the minister said. “We must rise to meet the challenges of xenophobia, radicalism and terrorism.”
He said that trade was the most effective way to promote inter regional and international harmony and it can bring the distant nations closer. The minister said that Pakistan was pleased to note that the UK was going to adopt the EU’s Generalized Schemes of Preference (GSP- Plus) scheme, adding that even after Brexit and the cooperation between Pakistan and UK could continue in the fields of trade, human rights, climate change, narcotics control and good governance.
He said that in the meeting both sides recognized that they needed to hold on to their shared values of democracy, free and fair trade and mutual respect.
“We believe that the world is a home to all and in our great cities and countries people with diverse ethnic, cultural and religious background can exist together.”
Pervaiz said the relationship between Pakistan and the UK had always been very unique, many generations of Pakistanis were settled in the UK and had played an active role in strengthening ties between the two countries.
Every year many students from Pakistan get enrolled at the UK universities and colleges.
He said that Pakistan today presented many opportunities to foreign investors with its “very liberal and open investment policy.”
He added that many UK based companies were already working in various sectors in Pakistan.
There existed a lot of potential to enhance that cooperation especially in the field of financial sectors, software development, pharmaceuticals, consumer goods manufacturing, engineering, machinery and electrical equipment manufacturing.
He urged the UK companies to look for possibility of entering into joint ventures with the local entrepreneurs.
The minister said that  ‘One Road, One Belt’ (OBOR) vision to establish close land and maritime links between 60-plus countries across Asia and Europe presented huge opportunities for every one and drew the attention of UK businesses towards it.
He said the OBOR vision, of which China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was a part, could contribute to regional and global growth by building infrastructure, physically integrating over 60 economies and focusing investment in regions with large latent economic potential.
For a long time, the heartland of Asia, which included West, Central and South Asia, situated between the developed and prosperous “European Economic Circle” and “East Asia Economic Circle”, had been considered an “Economic Depression Zone. ”Meanwhile, the strategic position of South Asia is rising and attracting more attention.
The demands for economic integration and interconnection of regional countries were increasing rapidly.
Most countries in the region were undergoing political and economic transition.
Despite different domestic situation, new visions or national development plans of most regional countries highlight the importance of economic integration and energy cooperation, while infrastructure construction and trade flows have become the priorities of their national strategies.
“We hope that UK companies with experience in building infrastructure and energy can find a lot of scope in CPEC project and join in this mega project that is going to enhance connectivity between many countries of the world immensely”, he said.
While addressing to the gathering Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said that London is open to business, investment, tourism and partnerships.
“We want cooperation in every field for creating jobs and investment between both of the country.”
He said that London has diverse communities, from different religions and countries including Pakistan. He added that around 250,000 Pakistanis are living in London.
Pakistan has strong Diaspora in the United Kingdom for enhancing trade and business cooperation and people-to- people contact between the two countries.
Sadiq Khan said, “We want to flourish environment for cooperation and people-to-people contact from both sides.
He said, “Women empowerment is very important for development and prosperity of any country.”
He informed he would meet Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to discuss more avenues for cooperation.
Later, talking to the media persons Minster for Commerce and Textiles Muhammad Pervaiz Malik said that Pakistan attached great importance to the Mayor of London’s visit.
“We discussed matter of bilateral interest and it is very reassuring for me to announce that there exists strong will and commitment on both sides to stay engaged for exploring ways to increasing bilateral trade and investment between the two countries on sustainable basis,” he said.
Both the sides agreed to continue cooperation in all fields, sharing their experiences through regular dialogue, enhanced political interaction to promote shared ideals of democracy, peace and harmony between different people, he added.
The minister asked the Mayor to send more trade and business delegations to Pakistan in future.
There was a lot of scope for the British companies in many projects relating to infrastructure and energy in CPEC.
He said both sides could benefit immensely from the duty free access available to Pakistan in the UK in the form of of GSP- Plus. This arrangement is helping to create more jobs, women empowerment and promoting sustainable development in Pakistan, while at the same time it is providing goods to British consumers at competitive and affordable price.