Sunday , February 25 2018

JMC Sketches Roadmap For Pak- Saudi Future Cooperation

Arif Qureshi

Islamabad: The Pakistan-Saudi Arabia Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) has agreed to expedite negotiations to finalize the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between central banks besides agreeing on exchanging and sharing security information and the expertise in the field of combating terrorism, organized crimes and money-laundering. It was decided after holding detailed deliberations for two days, drew a road map for future cooperation between the two countries to promote trade, investment, agriculture, education, culture and other economic and socio-economic sectorsA draft agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners is likely to be signed at an early date. The closing ceremony of the 11th JMC session was co-chaired by Minister for Commerce and Textile, Mohamamd Pervaiz Malik and Minister for Trade and Investment Saudi Arabia, Majid bin Abdullah Al Qasabi.

The Saudi Arabian minister of commerce and investment Dr Majed Abdullah Al-Qasabi  said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were not only brotherly countries but also strategic partners to overcome the challenges being faced by both countries. He said that 2030 vision would also help develop strategic relations between the two countries. There was need to identify new opportunities besides overcoming existing challenges that create hurdles to ease doing business for enhancing bilateral trade between the two countries,He added. He also highlighted the importance of remaining engaged in dialogue and communication to resolve issues and remove obstacles.

Speaking on the occasion, Pervaiz Malik said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were enjoying close brotherly relations, rooted in cultural and religions bonds; and ,have been helping each other in hard times. He expressed the hope that the JMC would pave way for new opportunities and highlighted the importance of identifying issues to remove obstacles for boosting bilateral cooperation. He said that Saudi Arabia had adopted vision 2030 which would open up new avenues of development in the country besides creating new jobs, urging the Saudi Arabia to enhance job quota for Pakistan under this particular vision.

The Minister said that the Pakistan had also initiated China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with cooperation of China, which also provided vast investment opportunities, urging Saudi Arabia to invest in this corridor. Pervaiz said the bilateral trade between the two countries was just $2.5 billion which he said was far below the existing potential, stressing the need for promoting trade by diversification, enhancing business to business contacts, simplifying the visa process and such like other initiatives. The minister was of the view that Pakistan offered attractive investment opportunities and as a result many international companies were launching joint ventures to tap this potential, urging Saudi Arabia to explore oil and gas, renewable energy and agriculture sectors for investment which provide lucrative incentives.

On the proposal of Pervaiz Malik, both the ministers agreed to establish Joint Working Commission (JWC) of the two Commerce Ministries for promotion of trade on fast-track basis. It is pertinent that at the 11th session of JMC both the countries agreed to hold exhibitions of new products in each other’s countries and first single country exhibition of Pakistan would be held in the second half of 2018. Both the sides agreed to review and simplify the procedure of business visa issuance and rationalization of visa fees. Both the dignitaries also signed the protocol of the 11th JMC session.

The commission called for reactivating Pak-Saudi Joint Business Council (JBC) by first quarter of 2018 followed by the first meeting of the council while Saudi Arabia would designate Commercial Attaché in Saudi Embassy to facilitate trade and business. Pakistani side stressed the need of cooperation between Saudi oil and gas companies to develop oil production in Pakistan including setting up of refineries.

Both the sides agreed to expedite negotiations to finalize the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between central banks besides agreeing on exchanging and sharing security information and the expertise in the field of combating terrorism, organized crimes and money-laundering. A draft agreement on the Transfer of Sentenced Prisoners is likely to be signed at an early date.

The commission encouraged exchange of visits of the officials from the media field, share television and cultural programmes and documentaries, facilitate the mission of the official radio and television delegations between the two countries. The Saudi side informed that there was a Saudi Royal Decree to establish Labour Attaché in Pakistan and one of the mandate of this Attachee would be to approve the labour training centers to train manpower in accordance with the Saudi requirement.

It was agreed to encourage cooperation in the fields of scientific researches, exchange of scholarship and experience in health teaching, medical staff and exchange of student visits. The Pakistani side requested increasing scholarships for Pakistani students, studying in Saudi universities. There would also be cooperation in science and technology and exchange of research expertise. Pakistan offered Saudi Civil Aviation training courses at Civil Aviation Training Institute, Hyderabad in the field of air traffic control, communication, navigation and surveillance engineering and aviation management.

Saudi Ministry of Health expressed the desire to continue the cooperation in the field of recruiting qualified and trained Pakistani medical personnel to work in the kingdom focusing on consultants, specialists, and nurses in critical healthcare. For focused and regular sectoral liaison, both the sides agreed to nominate the focal person for cooperation in fields of trade, energy, investment, education and agriculture.

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