Mission MEDEF- discours de M. Pierre Charasse, ambassadeur de France au Pakistan
Honourable minister(s), Mr. president and delegates of the French Business Confederation MEDEF, Ladies and gentlemen,
It’s a great pleasure to receive you all this evening in the residence of France, member(s) of the government of Pakistan, eminent members of the Administration of Pakistan, of the private sector, and representatives of the French firms coming from all over France.
This fact finding mission comprising of about thirty businessmen heading major French companies in diverse fields of activities such as construction, water treatment, public transport, environment, finance, space industry, telecommunication, Information Technologies, medical services and other would be visiting Islamabad and Karachi.
To them I will say that their presence here tonight witnesses many symbols for me, for all the members of the French Embassy and for the French community living in Pakistan.
First of all, their presence tonight is a good symbol. The strong Franco Pakistani subsidiaries network made of 40 companies, in which some French leaders have industrial activities, from a long time such as Telecommunication (ALCATEL), Electrical equipment (ALSTOM), Pharmaceuticals (SANOFI-AVENTIS and SERVIER), Chemicals (RHODIA), and petrol servicing (TOTAL). Their presence also represents a symbol of continuity as during the mid-90’s, the French governments have been offering very high values of soft loans, contributing directly to infrastructures development in hydroelectricity and electrical equipments, hospital equipment, rural telecommunication, and civil aviation, and helping the French companies to enter this market for the first time. During the past 30 years the French treasury has financed protocol worth more one million $, being one of the three major lenders of Pakistan.
However, as everybody knows, due to some very unfortunate events, the French had to withdraw from Pakistan during the late 90’s and the early 2000’s ; the French Overseas Development Assistance (protocole financier) and the guarantees of the French export credit agency COFACE were suspended ; the French exports to Pakistan were cut down by two, almost every head from the Pakistan-France Joint-ventures left the country ; on the cultural side, in 2002 the French school in Islamabad had to close down, as did the three Alliances Françaises. In spite of a high level of political dialogue, the years 2002 and 2003 were very dark in term of our bilateral economic and cultural relations.
But in less than three years, the global picture has changed a lot and confidence has come back outside and inside Pakistan. Our cultural and consular presence in Pakistan is back to normal. Last year we reopened the general consulate in Karachi, the French alliances Cultural Centres and the French school in Islamabad. It was a strong political signal.
France has demonstrated her commitment on numerous occasions, particularly the debt rescheduling benefiting PAKISTAN. And in 2004, our exports to Pakistan increased by 42%, as a result of a heavy local demand for industrial equipments. And now COFACE is back to Pakistan. It confirms if necessary, the economic policy of my country towards Pakistan as one of consistent and positive efforts towards “rapprochement” (closeness). In July 2003 the Pakistan Head of State General Musharraf visited Paris and launched a period of revitalized Franco-Pakistan relations. This visit, primarily a personal visit to our President was also a reaching out to French investors. The MEDEF organized an important meeting in Paris with President Musharraf. Several high level visits followed, Prime Minister Jamali in December 2003 including a meeting with the president of MEDEF International, M. Perigot, followed by the visit of the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, M. de Villepin to Islamabad in February 2004. A new visit of President Musharraf to president Chirac in last December 2004 reinforced our relationship.
Today, the present mission of the MEDEF is the direct consequence of these meetings and the proof that a positive image of Pakistan in France is rising, witnessing that a “New Pakistan” is emerging. Tremendous efforts have been achieved by Pakistan in order to get such a result : Discipline in policy making and restoration of the macroeconomy within a context of permanent reforms ; confidence in the microeconomy moves.
Consequently, to my french fellow-citizens, I will say tonight : yes you are right to have decided to come on this occasion to evaluate this market, the second in South Asia and one of the most promising in the whole of Asia.
A page is being turned over in the history of Pakistan, following the eventful 90’s, the war in Afghanistan, the 9/11, a new chapter is opening for this country which is facing now progress and modernity. Under President Musharraf leadership, Pakistan made a U turn, and France as the other European countries, salute Pakistan commitment both in its fight against terrorism and extremism, and in normalizing its relations with India, and in promoting development.
In a pacified surroundings, Pakistan is now dealing with the major challenge it must confront : human development, education, health, poverty reduction.
It is natural that French firms, with their know-how and their technical abilities, show an interest to this great country, and wish to be part of its growing. I am sure they will find more and more often in Pakistan the surrounding they will need, political and economical stability, law and order, and a safe and transparent legal environment.
I deeply thank the MEDEF delegation for coming to Pakistan, the Pakistani authorities and the private sector for the welcome they show to this mission. I specially want to thank the Board Of Investments for the remarkable work they accomplished organizing the planning of this visit in Islamabad and Karachi and the Economic Mission of the Embassy which has been working, with enthusiasm for months so as this visit could take place, and be a new starting point for the economic cooperation between France and Pakistan.
Everybody thank you./.
(Résidence de France à Islamabad, le 13 avril 2005)