Speech of Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, Advisor to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Textiles at the Morocco-Asia Business Forum 16th March 2012, Rabat Morocco

Islamabad: Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

On behalf of the Government and the private sector of Pakistan and on my own behalf, I thank the organizers of the Morocco-Asia Business Forum for providing me an opportunity to speak about the steps for enhancing economic relations between Pakistan and Morocco.

As a frequent business visitor to Morocco, I can visualize the immense possibilities that exist to expand economic ties. Pakistan, a country of more than 180 million people, straddles across four very important and economically vibrant regions of Asia– the South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia and the Middle East. Because of its geo-strategic location, Pakistan is the natural hub of economic activities among various regions

In its own right, Pakistan is the second largest producer of cotton yarn, second largest producer of chickpeas (i.e. hummus), apricot and edible salt, third largest producer of fabric, fourth largest producer of cotton and fifth largest producer of milk, seventh largest producer of world’s best mangoes, eighth largest producer of citrus fruits, ninth largest producer of Halal meat, sugar and many other items.

Pakistan also excels in light engineering goods and information technology. Pakistan has a large pool of skilled, efficient and competitive manpower.

Pakistan also happens to be a leading manufacturer and exporter of surgical instruments and sports goods. Incidentally, Pakistani surgical instruments are imported into Morocco through some European countries, this means higher cost for Moroccan buyers.

We do not subscribe to the perception that developing countries are always each other’s competitors as exporters of raw material to the same markets. We believe, there are many complementariness and through collaboration, joint ventures, mutual investment and sharing of knowledge and expertise, we can develop beneficial win-win economic partnerships. Pakistan, on its part, has been working on this policy.

In the last 10 years, Pakistan has made a significant investment in Morocco. The Government of Pakistan has invested more than U.S. $ 120 million in a joint venture in the phosphate sector. Pakistan private sector has also invested in oil and gas sector and is keen to enhance its investment. We would welcome similar investments from Morocco.

Pakistan offers the most attractive incentives to foreign investors. Pakistan provides comprehensive and legally binding protection to foreign capital, repatriation of principal amount and the profits. Pakistan is a member of World Trade Organization (WTO) and signatory to all international treaties related to trade and investment including intellectual property rights (copy right).

We are fully conscious that there is a distorted perception about the security situation in Pakistan. Pakistan provides protection to all foreign investors and their investments.

Official trade volume between Pakistan and Morocco is approximately U.S. $ 345 million. Out of which Moroccan exports to Pakistan are U.S $ 314 million. Pakistan imports 90% of rock phosphate for our fertilizer industry from Morocco. Main items of exports to Morocco are man-made fibre, denim and pharmaceuticals.

The inhibiting factors in enhancing trade include absence of banking channels, direct air and shipping links as well as high tariffs and the cumbersome goods clearance procedures in Morocco. As a representative of the Pakistani business community, I would underline the need for more liberal business visa regime.

Pakistan has always pursued the policy of liberal trade. In the recent decades we signed free trade and preferential trade agreements with important trading partners. Free trade agreements have been operational with many countries for many years including the Peoples’ Republic of China. It is our experience that they are good instruments to expand trade.

Pakistan proposed PTA with Morocco many years ago. It is our considered view that a PTA between Pakistan and Morocco will be conducive to enhancing the overall trade which will benefit both countries. I would, therefore, urge the new government and the business community to work for early finalization of the PTA.

Economic relations grow in tandem with increased people to people contacts and cultural exchanges. I believe the business community can step in to sponsor such exchanges.

Pakistan is also keen to learn from Morocco’s successful tourism policy. It would not be out of place to repeat the cliché that Pakistan’s natural beauty and heritage is the best kept secret. We would like to learn from Moroccan experience to increase tourism to Pakistan.

In conclusion, I would once again thank the organizers for this timely initiative to bring together Asia and Morocco which have not suffered the very severe fallout of the global economic crisis.

Thank you

For more information, contact:
Government of Pakistan
Ministry of Textile Industry
Information Secretary
2nd Floor, Federal Cooperative Building, G-5/2,
Islamabad – Pakistan.
Tel: 051-9212799 – 9217242
Fax: 051-9214015
Web: www.textile.gov.pk

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