Pak-UAE Commercial Diplomacy

Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan

Commercial diplomacy stands for further strengthening of economic integration, internationalizing, expanding across borders trade and above all stimulation to national economies. It is a new tool of engagement and creating trustworthy bilateral relations. It is the mother of all types of diplomacies in the new arena of globalization 3.0. It is the sign of economic survival, icon of joint ventures and one of the most important pillars of foreign policy in the world power politics.

11th Joint Ministerial Commission

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Most recently, Pakistan and United Arab Emirates (UAE) being strategic partners held 11th joint ministerial commission meeting in Islamabad. UAE Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan headed the UAE delegation. During his two day stay he met with Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain and Adviser on Foreign Affairs National Security Sartaj Aziz and discussed a wide range of matter relating to trade and commerce, further enhancing of economic ties, prospects of FDIs and joint ventures. Both sides agreed to enhance bilateral economic cooperation and decided to establish Joint Trade Council to promote trade between the two countries.

Commonality Prevails

The deliberations of the 11th JMC were held in very cordial atmosphere. There was commonality of views on whole range of bilateral political and economic matters of mutual interest. Both countries agreed that the political goodwill that exists between the two sides must be translated into sustainable economic ties. The two countries also decided to hold first meeting of Joint Business Council (JBC) in the first quarter of 2014 either in Pakistan or UAE as well agreed to appoint focal points to discuss establishment of joint committee for consular affairs.

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UAE offers Alternative Energy Cooperation

Addressing a joint news conference H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said there was huge potential to cooperate in the energy sector, especially the renewable energy and the UAE would be looking at ways and means to develop this sector in Pakistan. Since Pakistan is an energy deficit country and cooperation in alternative energy i.e. solar energy from the UAE would pay its dividends in the days to come.

Foundation of Pak-UAE Relations

He said relations between the two countries were diverse, encompassing political, economic and cultural dimensions as well as people to people contacts. The UAE minister was appreciative of the role being played by 1.5 million Pakistanis in the development of his country. Replying a question, he said the two countries had developed necessary mechanism for implementation of understanding and agreements for cooperation in different fields.
He said trade figures did not excite him much because the “ambition and potential” was much higher. Focal persons were appointed for cooperation in the shipping sector and a MoU was signed between the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan and Securities and Commodities Authority of the UAE.

Tangible Economic Gains

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Adviser on Foreign Affairs and National Security Sartaj Aziz said the two sides have decided to enhance their bilateral trade and investment. He said that “tangible economic gains” had set the stage for expanding the relationship. Mr. Nahyan said the UAE-Pakistan ties were not just about trade and were quite diverse.

Earlier, they co-chaired the 11th session of the Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC). Sartaj Aziz said convergences on mutually beneficial subjects of the two countries were far more than the so-called irritants. The two also expressed satisfaction over the implementation of decisions taken in the previous JMC.

Main Areas of Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC)

Different Sessions Details
Trade & commerce, investment and bilateral trade Both brotherly countries agreed to further enhance the volumes of bilateral trade, inflows of FDI and joint ventures.
Holding of the Pak-UAE Joint Business Council meeting It was decided to hold it in the next year.
Status of FTA with GCC Countries The government of Pakistan requested to gain the FTA status with GCC where UAE is an important country.
Finance & Banking UAE banking system is strong, stable and sustainable. The government of Pakistan needs further enhancing of finance & banking cooperation for the best of its economy and production channels.
Energy Sector Loan for Neelum Jehlum Hydro Project for $200 Million and investment of Oil & Gas Sector in Pakistan were thoroughly discussed.
Education UAE is now the hub of higher education due to which avenues were explored in this field.
Manpower, Visas The exports of manpower and relaxation of visa management were also discussed and the UAE side promised to resolve these issues.
Security Both sides shared commonalities on the regional and global security issues.
Science & Health Sectors UAE has become icon of science and health sectors. The government of Pakistan requested further extending of mutual cooperation.
Civil Aviation, Port & Shipping UAE has become ideal destination of tourism, hospitality. Its civil aviation sector is leading the regional as well as the globe. Its port & shipping sector has the ability to shake the GCC and MENA. Prospects of mutual cooperation in these sectors were thoroughly discussed.

A Huge Trade Delegation

National Security Sartaj Aziz said the UAE foreign minister has come with a big trade delegation (more than 40) which is reflective of the brotherly country’s commitment to strengthen and expand economic relations with Pakistan. The two sides have agreed to translate the immense goodwill that exists between the leadership of the two countries for greater economic cooperation, he added.

Satisfactory Bilateral Trade

The advisor expressed satisfaction that bilateral trade between the two countries has crossed $10 billion mark and the UAE has become the largest trading partner of Pakistan. Responding to a question, Aziz said the Joint Business Council will have its first session in the first quarter of the next year.

A Strong Trade and Economic Partnership

Meanwhile, President Mamnoon Hussain emphasised the need for transforming the existing close and cordial relationship between Pakistan and UAE into a strong trade and economic partnership to the mutual benefit of the people of the two countries.

The president expressed satisfaction that the bilateral trade between the two sides has increased significantly and said that Pakistan was keen to further strengthen and diversify bilateral cooperation in all fields, particularly trade and commerce.The UAE foreign minister was accompanied by ambassador of UAE to Pakistan, Essa Abdullah Al Basha Al Noaimi and senior officials of the UAE Embassy.

Discussing Pak-UAE bilateral relations, President Mamnoon said both countries share deep-rooted, close and fraternal relations. He said the two countries are bound by common faith and cultural affinities. He expressed confidence that the visit of the UAE foreign minister would brighten the chances of further strengthen of our bilateral ties, especially in trade and economic relations.

FTA with GCC: A Game Changer

He said that early conclusion of Pakistan’s a free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will further boost Pakistan-UAE bilateral trade on one hand and would pave the way for increased commercial activity between Pakistan and the Gulf countries on the other. The President appreciated UAE’s support to Pakistan’s efforts in conclusion of FTA with the GCC.

The president said that the presence of a large number of Pakistanis in the UAE was a manifestation of the strong bonds that existed between the two countries. The President on the occasion also conveyed his best wishes to UAE President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan.

Special Status to UAE

Also, in his meeting with the UAE foreign minister Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan attached special importance to its relations with the United Arab Emirates. The prime minister said the UAE also hosts a large Pakistani community which is making positive contribution to the development of UAE and is sending remittances supporting Pakistan’s economy as well. Joint Trade Council set up to promote Pak-UAE trade. During the meeting, views on bilateral and regional matters were also exchanged.

Conclusion

After the recent official visit of the UAE Foreign Minister H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, hopes are high for the further strengthening of bilateral relations in terms of trade and commerce, greater economic integration, cooperation in the fields of energy, renewables, shipping, service sector and the last but not the least, security. Keeping in view the emerging socio-economic, geo-political and geo-strategic irritants in the region and especially in the MENA, further consolidation of bilateral relations and continuous consultations at the highest levels are must to impasse all the red-lines in order to achieve a progressive, productive and prosper future.

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