Zardari for boosting trade cooperation with Myanmar
25 January, 2012
NAYPYIDAW: President Asif Ali Zardari on Tuesday called for enhancing trade and economic cooperation between Pakistan and Myanmar and establishing a preferential tariff arrangement leading to a comprehensive free trade agreement.
Zardari also emphasised establishment of a joint ministerial commission mandated to promote economic and trade cooperation between the two countries as well as cooperation in the oil and gas sector. He also offered to send minister for petroleum and natural resources to Myanmar for exploring prospects of meaningful cooperation.
The president made this call during a meeting with Myanmar President U Thein Sein soon after his arrival in the capital on Tuesday afternoon. Presidential Spokesperson Farhatullah Babar said the president also called for consultations between the respective central banks to study prospects of establishing a currency swap arrangement for closer economic and trade cooperation.
Further, the president called for greater interaction between the chambers of commerce of the two countries and offered to send a trade delegation of businessmen and traders to Myanmar. Hopefully, closer interaction between our respective trade bodies would lead to the establishment of a joint business council, the president remarked.
Pakistan and Myanmar have modest trade relations. Two-way trade between the two countries stood at $24 million in 2009-2010. The spokesperson said the president also offered to share Pakistan's experience with Myanmar in poverty alleviation and women empowerment. He said that Pakistan had introduced the Benazir Income Support Programme, which proved very successful and had been lauded by the international community. "We would be happy to invite your ministers and officials to visit Pakistan to study this programme, which aims at using the smart card technology for women empowerment and poverty alleviation", the president said.
To provide a long-term basis for Pakistan-Myanmar cooperation, Zardari offered to his counterpart educational and training facilities for Myanmar youth in the medical, engineering and business colleges in Pakistan. Besides, he also invited Myanmar diplomats to attend courses at the Foreign Service Academy in Pakistan.