Pak­istan and France En­dur­ing ties of Friend­ship

Enterprise - - Bilateral -

An era of re­newed bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and France will open when the pro­posed es­tab­lish­ment of a Joint Busi­ness Coun­cil takes a con­crete shape. A state­ment is­sued by the lead­ers of both coun­tries when they met re­cently, pointed to the pro­mo­tion of busi­ness sec­tor co­op­er­a­tion and elim­i­na­tion of non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers in ad­di­tion to preven­tion and set­tle­ment of any trade dis­putes that may arise in the process. The MoU signed be­tween Medef In­ter­na­tional, France and Pak­istan Busi­ness Coun­cil is a ma­jor step to­wards de­vel­op­ing in­sti­tu­tional link­ages be­tween the busi­ness bod­ies of the two coun­tries.

In the wake of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and eco­nomic crises, the cur­rent eco­nomic con­di­tions in Pak­istan de­mand fo­cused ef­forts in the ba­sic ar­eas of health, ed­u­ca­tion and con­struc­tion. France is home to many in­dus­trial units and com­pa­nies with a world class rep­u­ta­tion. The French gov­ern­ment has adopted a promis­ing stance to­wards help­ing Pak­istan im­prove its eco­nomic, fi­nan­cial and so­cial out­look.

With al­ready 400 French com­pa­nies ex­port­ing goods and ser­vices to Pak­istan and around 39 hav­ing set up their op­er­a­tions in the coun­try, bi­lat­eral trade with France shot up to $744.57 mil­lion in 2010. Trade har­mony be­tween both coun­tries is a re­sult of an im­por­tant agree­ment signed in 1983 for the re­cip­ro­cal pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of in­vest­ments, as pointed out by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Dr Ab­dul Hafeez Shaikh. Si­mul­ta­ne­ously, French Min­is­ter for Fi­nance and Econ­omy, Christine La­garde con­sid­ers in­vest­ment in the sec­tors of en­ergy (elec­tric power and fos­sil fu­els), en­vi­ron­ment (wa­ter treat­ment fa­cil­i­ties) and in­fra­struc­ture (dams, roads and mo­tor­ways) as highly sig­nif­i­cant.

There are still other ar­eas such as telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion, lux­ury goods, trans­port, aero­space and large scale re­tail, where the strength of France’s in­vest­ment ca­pa­bil­i­ties is prov­ing to be a ma­jor suc­cess. Sub­sidiaries of lead­ing French multi­na­tion­als in Pak­istan re­late to strong in­vest­ment and also pro­duc­tion through their man­u­fac­tur­ing units op­er­a­tional in the coun­try. Rhone-Poulenc and Rous­sel-Uclaf in the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor, Car­refour in the re­tail sec­tor, Group Danone in agro busi­ness, Al­ca­tel in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and other names such as Credit Agri­cole In­do­suez and the So­ci­ete Gen­erale have been strength­en­ing the Pak­istani econ­omy for decades.

Re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and France are in­deed mul­ti­fac­eted. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Hafeez Shaikh has rightly re­ferred to co­op­er­a­tion in the ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion, arts and cul­ture in this re­gard. With nearly about 50,000 Pak­ista­nis liv­ing and ac­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in the cul­tural life of France, the two coun­tries are deeply in­volved in schol­ar­ship and cul­tural ex­change pro­grams. The four ma­jor cities of Pak­istan, Karachi, Islamabad, La­hore and Pe­shawar al­ready have Al­liance Française cen­tres ded­i­cated to the dis­sem­i­na­tion of French cul­ture and lan­guage. Along with hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance from France for flood vic­tims, France has ac­tively par­tic­i­pated in the meet­ings of Friends of Demo­cratic Pak­istan (FODP) to sup­port the econ­omy of Pak­istan.

More­over, on the de­fence front, re­cent ne­go­ti­a­tions be­tween Prime Min­is­ter Yusuf Raza Gi­lani with the French De­fence Min­is­ter Longuet have fur­thered mil­i­tary co­op­er­a­tion and shar­ing of in­tel­li­gence be­tween the two coun­tries. At present, Pak­istan Air Force op­er­ates one of the world’s largest fleets of Mi­rage III and IV jet fight­ers, while the Pak­istan Navy has in its fleet three Agosta 90 class sub­marines.

The gov­ern­ment of Pak­istan is thor­oughly en­gaged in a na­tional re­form agenda to en­sure fair and eq­ui­table mo­bi­liza­tion of re­sources while en­abling in­ter­na­tional com­pet­i­tive­ness of its in­dus­tries. The gov­ern­ment is also fo­cused on at­tract­ing in­vest­ment to Pak­istan from in­ter­na­tional sources. As such, the shar­ing of com­mon ap­proaches on trade, in­vest­ment and se­cu­rity be­tween the economies of Pak­istan and France is the key fac­tor con­tribut­ing to an en­dur­ing friend­ship

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