PHL, Pakistan execs pledge to enhance economic cooperation
MANILA, Dec. 7 (PNA) -- Manila and Islamabad executives have pledged to work on broadening and diversifying the economic cooperation between the Philippines and Pakistan, with both sides expressing interest in enhancing agriculture, defense, information technology (IT) and pharmaceuticals.
In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Pakistani Ambassador to Manila Safdar Hayat said pharmaceutical firms in Pakistan want to invest in the Philippines, while other companies have expressed interest in exploring areas for cooperation on technology transfer, in fruit processing and IT, where the Philippines has greater expertise.
“My efforts from the very beginning have been to concentrate on enhancing trade between the two countries,” Hayat said.
Hayat said Pakistan is also interested in exporting rice along with weapons, tanks, aircraft and submarines to the Philippines.
Pakistan, he said, could export textiles to, and import chemicals and manufactured goods from, the Philippines.
Dominguez agreed with Hayat on the need to improve economic relations between their countries and raised the possibility of importing Basmati rice from Pakistan when the government lifts the quantitative restrictions on the grain next year.
Both officials agreed that the first meeting of the Joint Economic Commission tentatively set in April next year would be a mutually beneficial "starting point" for improved trade relations between the two countries, along with the conduct of trade delegations between the two sides.
The governments of Pakistan and the Philippines have ratified the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission on Aug. 17, 2009 to further promote increased trade and investments between the two countries.
“We’ll certainly participate. That will be a good start,” Dominguez said when informed by Hayat about the joint commission meeting.
Hayat also sought Dominguez’s support in inviting Philippine business leaders to the event as part of continuing efforts between the two sides to improve bilateral trade and investment cooperation.
Bilateral trade between Islamabad and Manila remain at a narrow base, with the Philippines’ exports to Pakistan totaling USD61.3 million, and imports amounting to USD55.7 million as of 2014.
The country’s top exports to Pakistan include corn, vehicles and vehicle parts, cigarette paper, malt extract and processed fruits and nuts.
The Philippines, in turn, imports packaged medicaments, refined petroleum, alcohol, raw tobacco, non-retail pure cotton yarn, and textiles, among other items, from Pakistan.
Dominguez informed Hayat that the Philippines’ Department of Defense is interested in importing weapons from Pakistan, which has a robust and advanced defense industry.
“I spoke with the (Pakistani) Minister of Defense and my understanding is that the defense industry in Pakistan is very advanced, and that maybe we should look at purchasing military equipment from them and he said that he definitely would look at it,” Dominguez said.
“I spoke right away with (Defense Secretary Delfin) Lorenzana. He says the equipment in the Pakistan Defense Ministry is very good,” Dominguez added.
Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on Sept. 8, 1949, with the Philippines opening a consulate in Karachi.
During the visit of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf to Manila in 2005, he and then-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Combating Terrorism and Certain Other Crimes, which was envisioned to facilitate sustained security and intelligence coordination and cooperation in disrupting terrorist and transnational concerns and crimes. (PNA)