Pakistan eying for FTA with South Korea

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

ISLAMABAD, Dec 6 (DNA): President Asif Ali Zardari’s recent visit to South Korea will pave way for initiation of talks for a Free Trade Agreement and significantly increase bilateral trade between the two countries. Pakistan is eying for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with South Korea.

Pakistan, which currently has Free Trade Agreements with China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, is in negotiations with several other countries for a FTA to boost its trade. The President, who during his three-day visit to South Korea was accompanied by a large business delegation, held around two dozen meetings with top Korean entrepreneurs and urged them to invest in diverse sectors of Pakistan’s economy.

The President during his talks with his counterpart Myung-bak Lee in Seoul invited South Korea for a FTA and also offered a currency swap agreement.

Abid Farooq, former Chairman All Pakistan Textiles Mills Association (APTMA) who was part of the President’s delegation expressed optimism that the talks between the two countries will lead to initiation of talks on the FTA.

He said currently India was at an advantage as owing to its FTA only a 4 per cent duty was imposed on its yarn and textiles, whereas Pakistan’s yarn and textiles were being imposed a 8 per cent duty, that was 100 per cent more and placed its products at a disadvantage.

He hoped that an agreement on similar terms will help Pakistani exports and give these an equal footing. Sohail Nisar Churra, Chairman Pakistan-Korea Business Council of FPCCI who also travelled along President Zardari to South Korea termed the visit as very fruitful. He said it helped the businessmen interact with the counterparts in their respective fields.

Churra said the Pakistan-Korea Business Council has been playing a leading role in increasing interaction between the leading entrepreneurs from either country and hoped that the interaction during the three-day visit would help see more Korean investment coming into Pakistan.

He said the bilateral trade between Pakistan and South Korea has risen to US 1.5 billion dollars, with an increase of around 3 million dollars in the past few years. He looked forward to see it multiply manifold in the years ahead.

President Zardari in his meetings with the Korean entrepreneurs urged them to invest in Pakistan’s energy, infrastructure and several other sectors and said there was a potential to increase bilateral trade by US 5 billion in next five years.

Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, immediate past President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the agreements inked between the two countries will have a positive outcome as there was a huge potential of increasing trade.

He said there was a wide scope of cooperation in energy, water sector, dams, railways, textiles and petrochemicals and said Pakistan stands to benefit from its trade ties with Korea, owing to its booming economy.