15 March 2006
Pakistan, Canada to further Enhance Trade Potentials
’Pakistan Times’ Diplomatic Desk
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Canada Tuesday while agreeing on the need to fully exploit their trade potential said they may soon start talks on a Free Trade Agreement.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and his Canadian counterpart Stephen Harper, who was on a visit to Pakistan, told reporters after their talks that they also agreed on measures to boost their political and diplomatic ties and discussed a whole range of issues.
Aziz said there were many opportunities to increase trade and investment between the two countries from the current annual trade of around 600 million dollars and said the potential was much higher.
He said Pakistan desired to have a free trade agreement with Canada and looks forward to holding discussions soon.
He also informed his Canadian counterpart about Pakistan’s investment policy and said it would encourage Canadian entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan.
The Canadian Prime Minister said the “productive discussion” also covered a range of bilateral issues including economic and commercial ties and said Pakistan was one of the 25 development partners with whom his country was working in areas of Human Rights and Good Governance.
Prime Minister Aziz informed him of Pakistan’s relations with its
neighbours, the issue of Kashmir and the ongoing talks with India to seek its resolution.
The Canadian Prime Minister said the dialogue on Kashmir was going well and hoped it would continue.
To a question about Pakistan’s role in the war against terrorism, he said “Pakistan is a very important ally globally in that war, particularly against those who want to destabilise the region along the frontier with Afghanistan.”
He said Pakistan has same national interest as that of Canada and Afghanistan and wishes to establish security and peace in the region.
The Canadian Prime Minister was informed of the measures taken by Pakistan to ensure security along its borders with Afghanistan.
He said Canada values whatever assistance Pakistan can provide particularly in the shared frontier areas.
Pakistan Committed to Peace
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan is committed to maintaining peace within its own border and the region.
Pakistan, he said, has played a major role in fighting terrorism, out of conviction, and was utilising all its resources in this regard.
“If terrorism is confronted it would lead to a peaceful and stable world and allow countries in the region including Pakistan to reach their true potential,” Prime Minister Aziz said.
He said Pakistan made tremendous progress and success in the war against terrorism and we will continue on it as a responsible country.
“We must fight terrorism, ensure security, not only within the country but also in the countries surrounding us ... whatever needs to be done is being done and will continue to be done.”
He said it was Pakistan’s conviction to face this challenge.
Prime Minister Aziz also pointed at the mature stand taken by his government over the issue of blasphemous caricatures.
Prime Minister Aziz appreciated Canada’s economic assistance to Pakistan in the areas of human development, health and education.
He said the people of Pakistan were very touched by the assistance of Canada in the wake of Oct 8 earthquake. Canada contributed by donating 80 million dollars for the quake affected people.
To a question about an agreement between Canada and India to cooperate in civilian nuclear technology, he said “this is a decision made by the previous government, obviously my new government would want to review the decisions that have been taken.”