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February 14, 2020

Erdogan arrives in Islamabad on two-day official visit

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February 14, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Islamabad on a two-day visit to Pakistan on Thursday along with a sizable delegation of business leaders for focused meetings that may fetch export and import orders for both sides.

Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived at the Noor Khan airbase to personally receive the Turkish president. The Prime Minister was accompanied by the members of the federal cabinet.

A senior official from the commerce ministry said on Wednesday that the business to business interaction between Pakistan and Turkey is set to begin from Thursday.

The Turkish president will also address a joint session of the Parliament on February 14 (today). This is the second time that the Turkish president has visited Pakistan since he assumed office in 2014. Before becoming president, Erdogan had also visited Islamabad twice as the prime minister of Turkey.

The Turkish delegation is expected to hold talks on various sectors of the economy with business leaders in Pakistan. The business-to-business meetings will cover trade, investment, cooperation on tourism, military procurement, defense industry, energy, textile, food, livestock, import and export, airways, real estate, trade, shipping, agriculture, jewellery, and automotive construction.

At the official level, the sixth round of the Pakistan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) will also be held. Pakistan may also ask for a consensus mechanism paving the way for a free trade agreement (FTA) acceptable to both countries, sources told The News. The existing trade volume between the two countries has dropped drastically from $1.08 billion to $792 million after the imposition of a protective duty on textiles by Turkey. Turkey imposed an 18 per cent protective duty on textiles recently, leading to a decline in exports from Pakistan.

Pakistan expected Turkey, being part of the customs union with the European Union, to provide Islamabad access to the Turkish market under a status similar to the GSP Plus, but the agreement in this regard has not been forthcoming.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, speaking to Geo News, said Pakistan had no reservations if Turkey wished to invest in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

“We have invited every country that is friends with Pakistan to invest in CPEC,” he said. “Pakistan would have no reservations if Turkey wishes to invest in the project.”

In response to a question about PM’s last-minute decision to not attend the Kuala Lumpur visit, the foreign minister said Turkey “was a friend and understood our situation”.

He appreciated President Erdogan for being extremely clear on the issue of occupied Kashmir and supporting Pakistan’s stance wholeheartedly. Qureshi said Erdogan’s visit will boost ties between the two countries.—News Desk