The News International (Pakistan) | 11 May 2007
Talks on Pak-Czech investment treaty under way
By our correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister of Czech Republic Mirek Topolanek has assured Pakistan that being the European Union member, Prague would play its role in strengthening Islamabad’s relations and striking a Free Trade Agreement with the bloc.
The visiting premier said that negotiations on Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and agreement for avoidance of double taxation between the two were also underway. The talks on this particular issue would soon end on a positive note.
Addressing a Pak-Czech investment conference here on Wednesday, organised by Board of Investment (BoI), Mirek Topolanek said that various issues including market access and EU anti-dumping duty on Pakistan’s bedlinen were also being negotiated.
Praising Pakistan’s economic performance, he said that the country’s economic achievements were remarkable and it had the ability and potential to become an economic leader in the region.
Topolanek hoped that trade, investment and business relations between the two countries would further grow and strengthen, which would make Pakistan a major Asian partner.
He pointed out that a favourable trend was evident from the three-fold increase in trade to over $70 million between Czech Republic and Pakistan since 2000. This increasing trend continued in the first two months of 2007 when Czech exports to Pakistan were worth $11.1 million and imports stood at $8.3 million. "An increase of 200 per cent in Czech exports to Pakistan is expected this year," he stated.
Federal Minister for Privatisation and Investment, Zahid Hamid, in his welcome address, underlined that there existed huge potential to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, especially bilateral trade.
Direct interaction between the business communities would enable them to better understand and realise the opportunities and prospects of cooperation in various fields.
He said that Pakistan would benefit from Czech’s knowledge and expertise in the field of energy in view of its rapidly increasing need.
The minister appreciated Czech participation through direct capital investment or provision of technical expertise and know-how in various upstream and downstream projects in the oil and gas, mining and power sectors and welcomed signing of a contract by SKODA for supplying machinery for a power project.
Pakistan’s investment policy was one of the most liberal and attractive in the region and there was a level-playing field for both foreign and local investors, Zahid Hamid added.
All economic sectors were open to foreign investors, who could invest up to 100 per cent equity. No government sanctions or permissions were required and remittance of capital, profits and fees were allowed and foreign investment also had statutory protection.
That resulted in a dramatic improvement in the country’s economic performance with a significant increase of more than 10 times in foreign investment from only $300 million in 2000-01 to $3.9 billion last year. This year, foreign investment would set a new record and surpass $6 billion, he said.
Highlighting the promising areas of investment, the minister said that there were opportunities for joint ventures in the information technology, automotive and precision engineering sectors, as well as in textiles, railways and infrastructure development.