13ème Assemblée générale du Pakistan France Business Alliance
Mr. President, dear members of the PFBA, ladies & gentlemen,
I am very delighted to be part of this annual meeting of Pakistan France Business Alliance for the second time.
PFBA is playing a vital role in the development of contacts between the private sectors of our two countries. Its capacity for doing so is increasing day by day. The membership of PFBA has grown from less than hundred at the last AGM to more than 150 now.
We should now think for a future strategy, appropriate as to what are our bilateral relations today, and to attract new French investors, particularly the very big groups.
France and Pakistan have a long history of close ties in all fields, whether they be political, economic, cultural or defence.
The relations between our two countries have traditionally been excellent and friendly, characterised by a high level of mutual consultations. The state visits of President Musharraf to France in July 2003 and December+ 2004 bear testimony to it.
France highly appreciates the commitment of President Musharaff in promoting a moderate and enlightened Islam, in fighting extremism and terrorism, in promoting democracy, peace and stability in the region and good relations with its neighbours India and Afghanistan. France is following with particular interest the process of détente between India and Pakistan. The series of confidence building measures taken by the two neighbours are liable to boost their mutual relations. The initial steps taken by the countries of South Asia in respect of SAFTA are of great significance for this region. South Asia is a region of high economic growth at present and the opening up of trade and increased economic cooperation between the various countries of the region augur well for its future. France also fully approves the measures taken by Pakistan to stop proliferation activities.
Pakistan has reached a great degree of international credibility from the economic as well as political point of view. Pakistan possesses now the internal stability required by the foreign investors. The proof of this is that the direct foreign investment crossed the one billion dollar mark last year. Pakistan’s economy is undergoing a remarkable growth. The growth rate achieved last year is expected to increase even further during the current fiscal year. This growth is propelled by the industrial sector which has undergone an even more remarkable growth in 2003-04. The volume of trade between France and Pakistan has increased considerably in 2004. Both French imports from Pakistan and French exports to Pakistan are going up after the bleak years 2002-2003. During the 12 months of 2004, our exports to Pakistan increased by 42 % as a result of heavy local demand for various industrial equipments.
French companies and businessmen are once again looking towards Pakistan for trade and investment opportunities. Renault car manufacturers of France sent a mission to Pakistan in early February to evaluate local conditions for the local assembling of their new low cost LOGAN car. A large delegation of French companies sponsored by MEDEF, the FRENCH BUSINESS CONFEDERATION, will be coming for an important visit to Pakistan from the 13th to the 16th of April. This visit is expected to herald a new era in the sphere of economic cooperation between the private sectors of our two countries.
The dynamism of Pakistan’s economy, the requirements of the country in terms of equipment, especially those linked to infrastructure projects in the major cities of Pakistan, the opening of telecommunications sector and the projects in energy sector offer an ideal framework for direct foreign investment.
But, a certain national and regional environment is essential to present a positive image of Pakistan. I had drawn your attention last year to the negative impact on the business, community of a true or false image given by the media, presenting a country affected by violence, insecurity, religious fanaticism, uncertainty on the nuclear arms. The media are an amplifier of these problems. The big progresses were made in one year, but you should know that it will always be difficult to attract the foreign investors if they are not certain that the country in all its components had made a final and irreversible choice of modernity, progress, democracy, tolerance et war against poverty. They are ready to take some risks but they need a safe and stable environment. You, as major actors of the civil society and citizens of this country, have an important role to play.
Opening towards the world in order to enter the global competition, Pakistan will have to place itself rapidly to the level of other Asian countries, to reduce the gap and catch up in the strategic fields, like education of boys and girls at all levels, public health, social services, infrastructures. There is no time to loose. There are many challenges to take up, so that Pakistan should no more be in the last quarter of the countries of the world, for its level of Human Development defined by the United Nations. Actually in the 142nd rank among 177 countries.
The Embassy of France in Pakistan with the help of its Economic Department is interested in developing a hard core of French industrial and commercial presence in Pakistan through ventures with Pakistani private sector. I visited recently the “Continental Biscuits Factory” in Sukkur, and I was really delighted to see what this joint venture with Danone had achieve. It is a good example of a very successful cooperation between Pakistan and French companies.
The French Association of Agro Food Industry ADEPTA which sent a mission to Pakistan in 2003 has remained in touch with its prospective Pakistani partners and is likely to send another mission later this year in order point to thrash out concrete opportunities of partnership with local companies ; a seminar, to be chaired in principle by the Minister for Agriculture of Pakistan, will be organized both by ADEPTA and this Embassy in the beginning July.
At a regional level, a new cooperation will be launched between the CCI of Lahore and the CCI of Nancy, a major Chamber of Commerce in the French region of Lorraine.
PFBA is called upon to play an even more dynamic role in the new context of enhancement of trade and investment opportunities between France and Pakistan. The cooperation agreement between the Economic Department of the Embassy and PFBA signed on 17 September 2004 provides the ideal framework for further reinvigorating the relations between the private sectors of the two countries. I would like to stress upon the opportunity to organize more communications bridges between our two counties, in particular through trade missions. I am also very happy to hear that your association’s northern chapter is planning such a mission sometime later this year.
I am glad to note that PFBA has become a full member of UCCIFE, (Union of French Chambers of Commerce & Industry Abroad). This confirms its position as the representative bilateral forum of Pakistani companies involved in economic relations with France and French companies operating in Pakistan.
Ladies and gentlemen, in this new context, you should know how to attract the big, medium and small French enterprises, you should know to how ”sell” the countless opportunities that offers Pakistan with her potential of human and natural resources. In the view of the Embassy, it is the major objective that PFBA has to look for in the future.
I congratulate the newly elected Executive Committee members of PFBA and its new office bearers, especially the new president M. Shabir AHMED to whom I put forward my heartiest congratulations, without forgetting the new First Vice President and the Secretary General.
I also take this opportunity to congratulate the recipients of the Trade Performance Awards Ceremony held by PFBA yesterday and wish them even greater success in increasing their trade volumes with France.
Finally, with these ending words I also wish to praise the actions of the former President Amin Hashwani who, during these last two years, has remarkably driven the new moves of the association.
Thank you Mr Hashwani,
Thank you ladies & gentlemen./.
(12 Mars 2005, Karachi)