PH-Pakistan to broaden, diversify economic ties

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The Department of Finance (DOF) said on Monday that Manila and Islamabad executives have pledged to work on broadening and diversifying economic relations between the Philippines and Pakistan.

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In a meeting with Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, 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 sai.

Hayat said Pakistan is also interested in exporting rice along with weapons, tanks, aircraft and submarines, as well as textiles to the Philippines and import chemicals and manufactured goods from the country.

Dominguez said the DOF 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 Finance department said the governments of Pakistan and the Philippines have ratified the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission on August 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.

The DOF noted that bilateral trade between Islamabad and Manila remain at a narrow base, with the Philippines exports to Pakistan totaling $61.3 million, and imports amounting to $55.7 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, 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 into 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 was established on Sept. 8, 1949, with the Philippines opening a consulate in Karachi.

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