High-level Pakistani trade delegation for Paris formed

*Aims to explore new trade avenues, set up joint ventures with French firms

ISLAMABAD: The Embassy of France in Islamabad in cooperation of Pakistan Business Council (PBC), Pakistan France Business Alliance (PFBA), Pakistan France Business Council (PFBC) and the Embassy of Pakistan in Paris constituted a trade delegation to Paris from June 2 to 5, 2014. 
The objective of the trade delegation is to provide opportunities to Pakistani entrepreneurs in search of equipment, technologies and expertise and explore possibilities of setting up joint ventures with French companies in the backdrop of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) plus status granted to Pakistan by European Union.
The programme is being carried out under the supervision of MEDEF International (French Business Council) with the cooperation of Ubifrance (French Trade Promotion Agency). 
Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif has consented to join the delegation to Paris besides the special assistant to Prime Minister/Chairman Board of Investment Dr Miftah Ismail. They will participate at the presentation on a plenary format that would take place on June 3 at the MEDEF. France the Pakistani ministers for water and power will also have a meeting with the French minister for external trade.
The number of participants stands at about 30 companies among them prominent industrial groups acting in various sectors of activity include energy inclusive of oil and gas exploration and production, power generation and distribution, infrastructure development and logistics including ground transportation, highways and water, agri business/food processing (dairy products, fruit and vegetable) and pharmaceutical products.
With these objectives in view, Business-to-Business meetings have also been organised at the MEDEF head office at the Embassy of Pakistan in France, at Ubifrance head office in Paris and at the offices of various French companies.
The Pakistani Embassy in Paris will give access to its premises on June 3 in the afternoon and June 4 to all the Pakistani delegates willing to arrange business meetings on their own and also to the French companies willing to meet with the Pakistani delegates.
This initiative by the private sector will trigger new dynamics in Pakistan/France business relationship and will be conducive to more investment and partnerships between companies of two countries. As a reciprocal gesture, a visit of a French business delegation to Pakistan is planned in the second half of this year.
Meanwhile top Pakistani businessmen will be visiting Paris next week in a bid to explore avenues of cooperation with their French counterparts in key areas like energy, sanitation, water and agro-based business for tapping the existing potential between two countries. Khawaj Asif will lead the delegation of around 30 top Pakistani businessmen from across the country and Dr Miftah Ismail would also be a member.
French ambassador to Pakistan Philippe Thiebaud at a briefing to a group of journalists along with Eric Noitakis head of the Economic 
Department at the embassy said, “The objective of the trade delegation is to provide opportunities to Pakistan entrepreneurs in search of equipment, technologies and expertise and explore possibilities of setting up joint ventures with French companies in the backdrop of GSP plus status.
He said at least 40 to 50 French companies would be meeting Pakistani businessmen visiting France form June 2-5. 
The Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and French President on the sidelines of the Nuclear Summit in Hague this year had agreed to strengthen economic cooperation between the two countries. He said visit of the delegation was a step in the process and working on a follow-up visit by German business delegation in mid of this year. This will provide French businessmen an occasion to see for themselves investment opportunities in Pakistan.      
The bilateral trade between Islamabad and Paris at present stood at $1.5 billion. After Pakistan had been granted GSP plus status from January this year, trade between Pakistan and 28 EU members would get a further fillip. The volume of trade between Pakistan and EU members following GSP plus status is likely to touch $1 billion, he said.
French companies until now had invested $1.5 billion in Pakistan in different fields, including helping it produce 1,500 megawatts (MW) electricity. The Uch power plant is generating 1,000 MW and is being run on local gas. 
French Development Agency (FDA) in close cooperation with Water and Power Development Agency was focusing on small hydropower generation 
Projects, a few of them were coal-supported. 
The envoy said his focus was to go for small projects, which could be completed within two to three years. However FDA was also involved in Munda Dam, renamed as Momand Dam over the River Swat and it would be financing preliminary studies on it.
To a question on nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, the envoy said, Islamabad had ‘involved itself in cooperation with China’, and both the countries had entered into an agreement on Karachi Nuclear Power Plant II and III. 
On cooperation between two countries in agro-based business, Eric said it would focus on processing of agricultural products like milk processing, baby milk and yogurt. 
Similarly, two Pakistani companies were looking to acquire French expertise in mineral water, as France was the biggest producer of the product in the world. Similarly, a Pakistani company since long had been importing One-Day chick from France and was supplying to others and had captured 60 percent share of the poultry market in the country. Some Pakistani companies were exploring ways to export mangoes, strawberries and cherries to France, he added.

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