Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday sought increased Omani investment for Pakistan’s energy, telecom and agro-based industries, besides urging support for an early finalisation of a FTA with the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).The two sides discussed Pakistan-Oman bilateral relations, economic cooperation, trade, commerce and investment during the meeting which was attended by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Minister for Ports and Shipping Babar Khan Ghauri, Minister of State for Ports and Shipping Nabil Ahmad Gabol, Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Mohammed Aslam Khan Raisani, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Oman Sohail Amin and Ambassador of Oman to Pakistan Mohammad Al-Lawati.
Prime Minister Gilani during his talks with Deputy Prime Minister for Cabinet Affairs Fahd bin Mahmud Al Sai’d said his country valued its relations with Oman and wished to diversify trade ties covering all areas. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi later told APP that during the talks both the sides agreed on formalizing a mechanism between the two countries to implement the agreements and MoUs already inked and the matters agreed upon during the visit. The two countries are in the process of finalising agreements on defence cooperation, labour and manpower and a Joint Business Council between the two sides.
He said he has invited his Omani counterpart for a follow up in February and expressed the hope that it would “translate the already existing person to person and government level interaction into a beneficial economic interaction”. Qureshi said the mechanism would also help in removing the bottlenecks between the two countries. Regarding the potential of export of skilled and non-skilled labour between the two countries, Qureshi said the Prime Minister has directed that concrete suggestions in this regard be presented from the Pakistan said. Qureshi also pointed that Pakistan has urged Oman to extend its support for an early inking of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He said Pakistan was also looking into the possibility of benefiting from the Oman-US FTA and could process some of its products in Oman. The Omani side pledged to support Pakistan to ink FTA with GCC.
Foreign Minister Qureshi said despite the short visit, the meetings have generated “tremendous goodwill” and would go a long way in making the economic and political ties more beneficial. He said owing to the deep historic ties of Oman with the people of Balochistan, the Prime Minister specially invited Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Aslam Raisani to be part of the delegation and discussed Oman’s support for various developmental projects in the province, which in a sense borders Oman. Deputy Prime Minister said both the countries had deep brotherly relations and historic relations. He said there was a need to have cooperation in all areas. Prime Minister Gilani said keeping in view the geographical proximity of Pakistan and Oman, there was a huge potential of bilateral trade. He invited Omani investment in energy, telecom, agro-based industries, textiles, manufacturing, electronics, fisheries, education and health sectors. He said apart from interaction between the two private sectors, there was a need for greater people to people contacts. He hoped high level visits and the government to government contacts would bring the two countries closer.
The Prime Minister thanked the Omani Government and the people for their generous assistance during the recent devastating floods in Pakistan that displaced around 20 million people and caused massive destruction to its agriculture and infrastructure. Gilani called for the optimal output of the Joint Working Group formed for promoting trade, agriculture, fisheries and livestock and investment and said the vast scope of cooperation needs to be materialised for the mutual goods of the two people. Oman evinced interest in acquiring additional manpower from Pakistan, on priority and the two sides agreed on inking an MoU soon between the Ministry of Labour and Manpower and the Omani Authority to materialize the proposal. Gilani also sought expansion of the Pakistan-Oman Investment company that was providing micro-credit services through its 15 branches all over the country. During the talks Oman also offered Pakistan to help develop a rail link between Gwadar and Quetta to enhance trade opportunities of countries like Oman to reach out to the Central Asian Republics.
Oman also sought assistance from Pakistan Railways for construction of Railways in Oman. Pakistan will provide assistance in planning, designing, consultancy services, construction and operation of railways. Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani noting the tremendous opportunities of enhancing maritime trade between Pakistan and Oman through the Gwadar port, said it would also promote tourism and cultural links between the two countries. He said keeping in view the shared cultural values, there was a need to further promote cultural linkages and cooperation especially in the education sector. He said there was a need for closer linkages between the universities of the two countries. He hoped it would further cement bilateral ties between the two countries. Gilani said besides government to government and business to business contacts the relations between the two countries could be further consolidated through increasing people to people contacts. Pakistan also offered to increase the number of scholarships for Omani students under the Technical Assistance project besides extending training facilities in other fields as well. Prime Minister said the areas destroyed during operations against militants require reconstruction of schools, hospitals, roads and houses and invited Oman to select the sector in which it could cooperate and thanked its government and people for their earlier assistance for the IDPs.
He conveyed his special regards to Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said and acknowledged with thanks the gift of six ambulances for the IDPs besides humanitarian assistance of US $ 10 million. Sultan Qaboos said Oman greatly values the brotherly relationship with Pakistan and desires to work more closely at every level with Pakistan. He also assured assistance for reconstruction of militancy affected and the flood affected areas of Pakistan. Gilani congratulated Oman on 40th anniversary of “Blessed Renaissance” and appreciated the visionary leadership of Sultan Qaboos. He said Oman has witnessed tremendous progress and development under his leadership. He recalled his meeting with the Sultan and appreciated his complete grasp on the regional situation. The Oman side was represented by Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah, Minister of Agriculture Salim bin Hilal bin Ali al-Khalili and Minister of Commerce and Industry Maqbul bin Ali bin Sultan. – App