According to local businesspeople, the visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Pakistan this week will not only help improve economic cooperation between the two countries but will also help boost bilateral trade.
Erdogan is scheduled to arrive in the capital Islamabad on Thursday for a two-day official visit — his fourth since 2002.
“The visit of President Erdogan means a lot to Pakistan at a time when the country is facing a number of challenges, particularly on the economic front,” said Abdul Rashid Abro, a Karachi-based businessman and former President of the Turkish-Pakistan Business Council.
“Unfortunately, the bilateral trade volume between the two long-standing allies is less than their actual potential. There is no doubt that recent economic cooperation, including Turkish investment [ in Pakistan ], has improved the situation, but much room remains vacant,” Abro said to the Anadolu Agency.
“To me, his visit can be a golden opportunity to boost the bilateral trade volume between the two sides,” he maintained.
Pakistani businessmen, he said, expected from Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit Turkey with a trade delegation to improve bilateral economic cooperation both on government and private levels.
The current trade volume between the two countries is $900 million. Turkey and Pakistan are engaged in Strategic Economic Framework (SEF) that aims to boost the bilateral trade volume.
Last year, Ankara presented its proposals on the SEF to Islamabad with an aim to enhance the bilateral trade five times from existing level.
The SEF includes some 71 actionable items — including free trade agreement, technology transfer, capacity building, and defense cooperation.
Farooq Afzal, a Karachi-based businessman, sees “great opportunities” for Turkish investors in Pakistan’s tourism and construction sectors.
“Pakistan has an enormous treasure of natural beauty to show the world. But we are sorely lacking in infrastructure, while Turkish companies represent vast experience in this field, “Afzal said to the Anadolu Agency.
“Pakistan can really improve its struggling economy by improving its tourism industry, and Turkey, which earns more than $40 billion from tourism, can be a great help in that regard,” he maintained.
Nine Turkish companies have already made investment in Pakistan, but the real opportunities are still awaiting the Turkish investors, according to Afzal.
He opined that the signing of a “long-pending” Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Ankara and Islamabad could actually boost the bilateral trade volume.
“We expect that President Erdogan will make some big announcement regarding FTA,” Afzal added.
Nasir Khan Turk, vice president of Karachi Electronics Dealers Association, said the Turkish home appliances had already made their way into Pakistani markets.
“Turkish brands are equally compatible with the European ones. They could further capture the market if produced locally,” Turk told Anadolu Agency.
Turkish company Arcelik acquired Dawlance, a leading Pakistani manufacturer of home appliances, for $258 million in 2016.