Pakistan and South Korea on Tuesday inked six agreements dealing with modernisation of Pakistan Railways, construction of an LNG terminal and cooperation in the banking sector in a bid to further solidify bilateral relations.
The signing of agreements in various sectors came during President Asif Ali Zardari’s state visit to South Korea in which he met his counterpart and held meetings with heads of several top companies.
President Zardari, who was present at the signing of almost all memoranda of understanding, urged South Korean investors to benefit from Pakistan’s incentives. His South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, witnessed the signing of two accords at the president’s office.
A major breakthrough came in the area of modernisation of railways. Pakistan, under the agreement, would seek high-speed trains, communications systems, signalling, rail stock, modernisation of operation and management, development of logistics parks and freight terminals, exchange of construction and maintenance technologies for infrastructure, including tracks, bridges, overhead electrification and power supply systems.
The agreement was signed by Muhammad Arif Azim, Secretary of Railways, and South Korea’s Railway Minister Kwon Do-youp.
The president, who held a number of meetings with heads of top business houses, said Pakistan was a haven for foreign investors as the country’s large consumer population promised good profits and lucrative business.
He said a large number of South Korean companies were already working in Pakistan and doing good business, adding that other companies could also invest in new areas while the existing ones could expand and diversify their operations.
The president later saw inking of an MoU under which Pakistan would acquire used diesel locomotives and work for their modernisation, maintenance and operation.
Under an agreement between Samsung C&T and the Board of Investment of Pakistan, an off-shore floating LNG terminal, will be set up.
The president also met the Governor, Bank of Korea, Kim Chung-soo, and witnessed signing of an MoU with the State Bank of Pakistan.
Under the MoU, the two central banks would develop closer cooperation through exchange of information, human resources, technical cooperation, sharing of experiences through seminars, workshops and short-term missions for study. The two countries also inked an MoU for enhanced cooperation in the field of culture, films, sports and tourism.
MEETING WITH SOUTH KOREAN COUNTERPART:
President Zardari offered South Korea a free trade and a currency swap agreement and proposed increased import of manpower from Pakistan. He made this offer during a meeting with President Myung-bak Lee.
The president was assisted in the meeting by Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Muhammad Amin Fahim, Minister for Water and Power Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Nawabzada Malik Amad Khan, Secretary of Pakistan Railways Muhammad Arif Azam, Secretary of Board of Investment S. Anjum Bashir, Wapda chairman Raghib Abbas Shah, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Korea Shaukat Ali Mukadam and other senior officials.
The two leaders expressed satisfaction that bilateral cooperation during the past three decades had expanded and intensified in various areas and urged further enhancing of bilateral trade and investment relations.
The president, while highlighting the immense investment potential, said Pakistan had coal reserves of about 185 billion tons, potential of hydroelectricity, wind corridors and round-the-year sunlight, which he said could be harnessed by setting up coal-fired power plants, dams, wind farms and solar plants.
President Zardari, who was accompanied by a large business delegation comprising chairmen and chief executives of leading companies operating in Pakistan, said his government was keen to take bilateral trade ties to new heights and expressed the hope that interaction between businessmen and entrepreneurs of the two countries would open new avenues for investment and trade.
On strengthening cooperation in manpower and education, the president said that sizeable number of students from Pakistan were studying in various universities of South Korea, and called for enhancing the number of scholarships for Pakistani students besides absorbing more Pakistani manpower as the country had sufficient skilled manpower and could meet South Korea’s additional needs.
The president appreciated Seoul’s assistance to Pakistan through the FoDP forum and during devastating floods in the country.
On the nuclear issue, the president reiterated that Pakistan supported a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula and six-party talks.
On reforms in the Security Council, Mr Zardari said that the reformed Security Council should reflect the interest of the wider UN.