Islamabad, August 19, 2013 (PPI-OT): Bismillah Irahma Nirahim
Excellency, Shanker Prasad Koirala, Minister of Finance, Industry, Commerce and Supplies,
Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal
Excellency, Bharat Raj Poudel, Ambassador, Embassy of Nepal, Islamabad
Distinguished delegates, Officers from Ministries and Divisions Representatives of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries,
Ladies and gentlemen:
It is, indeed, a matter of great honor and privilege for me to welcome Excellency Shanker Prasad Koirala, Minister of Finance, Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal and the distinguished delegates from Nepal for the 6th Session of Joint Economic Commission between Pakistan and Nepal.
Pakistan and Nepal enjoy fraternal and cordial relations. The two countries signed a protocol for establishing diplomatic relations in 1962 and set up Embassies in 1963. Both Nations have also signed agreements 2 to reciprocate the status of “Most Favored Nation” in 1963 to develop trade and cooperation.
The agreement to establish JEC was signed in 1983. Both countries have made a number of advancements in the fields of Commerce, agriculture and Tourism, in addition to exchange of information in energy sector. Both countries share common perceptions on various regional and global issues. Pakistan is keen to enhance its existing friendly ties with Nepal for exploring new avenues for cooperation in commercial and economic fields for mutual benefit of Nepal and Pakistan.
The 6th Session of the Joint Economic Commission is taking place after a long pause of more than eight years. The new government in Pakistan is very keen to strengthen relationship with countries in the region and Nepal remain one of the important one. It is in this context that the new government has decided to hold the JEC Session with Nepal immediately.
I sincerely hope that deliberations of this Joint Economic Commission would prepare concrete and significant recommendations to advance further growth in various areas of mutual interests. This Session would certainly offer an opportunity for us to move forward together in the fields of trade, agriculture, education, energy, information technology and other sectors where both countries have comparative advantages.
Pakistan is mindful of the fact that existing cordial and friendly relations between Pakistan and Nepal can be further translated into substantial economic and commercial cooperation. This forum can help in harnessing the true potential of mutual trade, which is still far below the existing 3 potentials.
There is certainly a need for taking concrete measures for increasing and diversifying bilateral trade. It is very heartening to note that Joint Technical Committee of the two countries has held very useful dialogue in July this year at Kathmandu, which is another important landmark in furthering the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. I am quite optimistic that the conclusion of Free Trade Agreement will open new vistas in promoting our trade.
A Joint Business Council between Pakistan and Nepal has been constituted since long, the 2ndmeeting of the Council was held at Kathmandu in November 2005. You would appreciate that Joint Business Council plays a pivotal role in strengthening trade ties between the countries. I urge upon the respective organizations of both the countries to hold its third meeting with in this year for meaningful engagements.
There exist enormous opportunities for bilateral investment and joint ventures through public‐ public and public private partnerships. The business circles of our two countries can extend cooperation in the fields of energy, agriculture, telecommunication, education and health. Pakistan abounds with enormous natural resources which offer ample opportunities for the investors from Nepal.
Pakistan at the moment is confronted with severe energy crises. It is gratifying to know that Nepal has developed expertise to explore alternate sources of energy. Pakistan wishes an active engagement of Alternate Energy Board of Pakistan with Alternate Energy Promotion Centre of Nepal for sharing their experience in this area. A Memorandum of 4 Understanding, which is to be signed shortly, will pave the way for furthering the collaboration in this sector.
Pakistan lies at cross road of Central and West Asia. Besides being a big market of more than 180 million people. It is also a neighbour to big emerging economies like India and China. The geographical location of Pakistan coupled with a friendly, liberal investment policy offers ideal and enormous opportunities for Nepali investment in Pakistan. I am hopeful that the investors of your country will avail the opportunity. Pakistan is willing to extend maximum possible facilitations.
I take this opportunity to share briefly with you, the Pakistan’s economic performance and future prospects. Despite internal and external challenges such as the war against terror, severe energy crises and phenomenal surge in commodity prices over the last few years, Pakistan has been able to maintain a reasonable growth trajectory.
The economy on average grew since 2008‐09 at around 3%. Pakistan has fixed a GDP growth target of 4‐5% during the next financial year. Pakistan has been witnessing improvement in foreign investor’s confidence on the policies of the new government. As is evident that post 2013 election, the capital market crossed 23,000 plus points emitting positive signals to investor’s 5 confidence.
Our service sector has 57.7 percent share in GDP and with a very good growth potential. Pakistan has embarked upon a major reform program that aims at fiscal stabilization, mobilizing domestic resources, phasing out subsides, restructuring the power sector and other public sector enterprises and strengthening the social safety nets.
Let me once again warmly welcome you and your delegation to Pakistan. I look forward to a very pragmatic discussion on our bilateral economic relations by the experts of the two countries, which I am sure will meet the objectives of deepening our bilateral relationship. In the end, I wish the delegates a comfortable and enjoyable stay in Pakistan.
Thank you Opening statement by Hon’able Shanker Prasad Koirala, Minister for Finance, Government of Nepal, on the Sixth Session of Nepal‐Pakistan Joint Economic Commission 19 August 2013, Islamabad Your Excellency Mr. Muhammad Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization of the Islamic Republic of Government of Pakistan Distinguished Members of the Pakistani Delegation Representatives of the private sector of Pakistan.
Members of my delegation,
I feel privileged and honored to be here today leading the Nepalese delegation to the Sixth Meeting of Nepal‐Pakistan Joint Economic Commission.
At the outset, on behalf of the Delegation of Nepal and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to Your Excellency and through you to the Government of Pakistan for the Warmth and generous hospitality extended to me and my delegation ever since our arrival in this beautiful city of Islamabad. I also appreciate Your Excellency for the warm words of welcome you just expressed to me and my delegation.
I take this opportunity to congratulate Your Excellency on the successful holding of elections of the national assembly and provincial assemblies in Pakistan and on Your Excellency’s assumption of the onerous responsibility as the Minister for Finance Revenue, Economic Affairs, Statistics and Privatization. I am personally impressed by Your Excellency’s vast experience, academic excellence, and political credence.
I am happy to see Your Excellency resuming the responsibility of such an important portfolio at this juncture. We are confident that with your Excellency in the helm of this important Ministry in Pakistan, the economic relations between our two countries would find solid footing to further deepen and widen the areas of cooperation.
We are happy that the Sixth meeting of Nepal‐Pakistan bilateral Joint Economic Commission has taken place despite a considerable gap of eight years.
The relations between Nepal and Pakistan are marked by good will, friendship and cooperation. We consider that expanding the areas of cooperation in economic and cultural fronts would help consolidate the foundations of our relations and ultimately enhance the welfare of our people.
Establishment of Joint Economic Commission in 1983 and signing of Bilateral Trade Agreement in 1982 marked a watershed in our relations in trade, commerce and economic fronts. Lately, signing of the Agreement on Cooperation in Agriculture in 2007 and the Tourism Cooperation Agreement in 2009 were two important steps taken to work in the areas that benefit our two peoples.
There is a good scope of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries. Cooperation in the fields, such as, agriculture tourism, education and culture, health, textiles and leather industries would contribute in the economic development and prosperity of our people. Nepal has emerged as one of the finest Pashmina producers. We do see potentials that our agriculture products like cardamom, tea, cofee, medicinal herbs can find a reasonable space in Pakistani market.
We deeply appreciate the Government of Pakistan’s decision to allow duty free access of Nepalese tea in Pakistan, and hope this would find continuity with commensurate simplification of procedure at the Karachi port.
There have been good institutional linkages between the private sectors of Nepal and Pakistan which need to be revitalized. Frequent exchange of business delegations, organization of trade and tourism fairs in both the countries, and collaboration between the two private sectors would give added impetus to the promotion of trade and commerce. Nepal has given special emphasis on the public‐private partnership for economic development of the country where private sector can play a lead role.
I would like to acknowledge with gratitude that Nepal has benefited from the provision of annual scholarship seats under the PTAP for the undergraduate study in most needy areas of technical education. In the context of growing requirement of such manpower in Nepal I request that the number of seats may kindly be increased and the allocation be expanded to the post graduate training in different fields of health and medical sciences.
Let me briefly share about Nepal’s current political and economic scenario. As you know that we are in transition. Peace process is almost concluded. The next task is writing a new constitution for which the election of Constituent Assembly has been called for November 19 of this year.
This remains the single most important priority task of the present government. On economic front, despite challenges, economy is growing steadily. We expect the growth rate in current year will boost to 5.5 percent. Mostly the macroeconomic indicators are at satisfactory level. The inflation remained below 9.9 percent during last fiscal year.
The revenue collection remains satisfactory with over 20 percent growth. The external sector has mixed scenario with increasing foreign exchange reserve, balance of payment surplus, and increased amount of remittance. However, growing trade deficit is an issue that worries us.
We are trying to increase private sector investment by providing investment friendly environment. Though our bilateral trade volume is small, still Nepal has significant trade deficit with Pakistan. We need to improve the trade environment between the two countries, by reforming both tariff and non‐tariff barriers and preferential cargo tariffs.
To conclude, I am confident that our deliberations during this meeting would be fruitful to lead us to an outcome that helps to further consolidate economi9c cooperation between our two countries.
I thank you for your attention.
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