6th Meeting of the Pakistan-Turkey High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC), held in Islamabad, on 14 February 2020 co-chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Under the umbrella of the High-Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC), both sides signed 13 memorandums of understandings (MoUs) including a joint declaration, importantly approved a Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) and an accompanying elaborate plan of action to implement the new vision for the ties.
The MoUs signed by the two governments relates to fields of standardisation, conformity assessment, metrology and training; diaspora policy, media development and facilitation of tourism, halal accreditation, trade facilitation and customs cooperation matters, railways, postal services, military training, and hydrocarbons. These agreements were the outcome of discussions at the HLSCC, which steers the bilateral relationship and its working groups.
The two sides reviewed the existing bilateral trade and agreed to increase the level of economic engagement to mobilize the untapped potential for enhancing trade and investment. The Strategic Economic Framework aims at realizing the target of enhancing bilateral trade to $5 billion by 2023 from the current $800 million.
Both sides agreed to encourage their businessmen to establish Joint Ventures in industrial sectors and cooperate in the field of E-commerce.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at a press conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan after the signing ceremony, called the Strategic Economic Framework and the 71-point plan of action ” as the “roadmap for deepening economic cooperation”.
Mr Erdogan vowed to extend all help in the socio-economic development of Pakistan. He said, “Turkey is ready to provide all support in transport, energy, tourism, healthcare, education, and law enforcement, which will help in the socio-economic development of Pakistan.”
The two sides agreed to expand the scope of the HLCC, which previously had seven joint working groups focusing on political coordination; trade and investment; energy; banking and finance; transport and communications; culture and tourism; and education. HLCC has now got two new groups on defence industry cooperation and water and agriculture.
Turkish President said that the defence cooperation was the “most dynamic element” of the bilateral cooperation. Turkish Defence Minister retired Gen Hulusi Akar called on Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa at the General Headquarters to discuss defence ties.
According to ISPR statement, “During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, regional security and measures to further enhance bilateral defence collaboration were discussed.”
“The COAS said that Pakistan values its unique relationship with Turkey and would always stand by our brothers,” according to the ISPR statement, which further noted that the Turkish defence minister appreciated Pakistan’s contribution for conflict prevention in the region and for standing by Turkey. He pledged to reciprocate that support.
Highlighting the importance of investments for job creation, improving productivity and competitiveness of Pakistan, he hoped that Prime Minister Imran Khan would improve the business climate in Pakistan.
Mr Erdogan reaffirmed his support for Kashmir. He said Turkey was in “deep solidarity” with the people of Kashmir suffering Indian oppression. He offered Islamabad his help for improving ties with Kabul. He said, both Pakistan and Afghanistan were Turkey’s brotherly countries and he would like to see them enhance their relations. He thanked Pakistan government for supporting Turkey’s military operation in Idlib (Syria) and helping in taking control of Pak-Turk schools that were previously run by his opponent Fethullah Gülen.
PM Khan, on this occasion, said “Turkey was in a situation similar to what confronting Pakistan today when Mr Erdogan came to power with circular debt and IMF loan hurting their economy. We want to learn from their turn around.”
Pakistan and Turkey were opening a new chapter in their ties in which timelines had been set for progress. “Both countries would benefit from cooperation, but Pakistan would be the bigger beneficiary,” he said.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, in a presser at the Foreign Ministry office after Erdogan’s departure, said the visit had shown that the historical ties between Pakistan and Turkey were strengthening and that they had not been affected by Pakistan’s decision not to attend the Kuala Lumpur summit.
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