UAE to back Pakistan’s quest for free trade agreement with Gulf Cooperation Council

ABU DHABI: UAE Foreign Minister Shaikh Abdullah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan and visiting Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar confirmed the “continued strong alliance and cooperation” between the two countries. Foreign Ministers at 10th session of Pakistan-UAE Joint Ministerial Commission JMC meeting here focused on ways to further enhance economic and commercial ties between both countries. Among objectives was also Pakistan’s aim for garnering support as it negotiates a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Gulf Cooperation Council GCC.

Shaikh Abdullah assured Pakistan of UAE’s full support for Pakistan-GCC FTA and said UAE valued its relations with Pakistan due to the two countries’ long and deep brotherly relations. One of main missions of Hina Khar’s visit to UAE is to encourage investment in Pakistan, in addition to highlighting numerous benefits and opportunities for UAE businesses interested in investing. Trade between two countries continues to increase, reaching $6.7 billion (Dh24.45 billion) last year.

Addressing joint press conference, both Foreign Ministers said JMC meeting was “successful.” Khar noted there were ample opportunities for UAE investors in renewable energy, oil and gas, hydro-petroleum refineries, technology, agriculture, infrastructure and other sectors in Pakistan.

JMC meeting also addressed exchange and safety of labour. UAE is one of major employers of Pakistani expatriates, with about 1.2 million gainfully employed here. “UAE has one of richest diversities of foreign labour. It is important that our trading partners continue to clarify working conditions and properly set expectations so our exchange of manpower continues to be beneficial for our countries,” Shaikh Abdullah said. Khar said: “The security of our workers is important and we work hard to control our borders and minimize human trafficking.”

To a question in relation to regional security and Iran, Shaikh Abdullah said the UAE’s position is clear. “The security of the GCC is an integral part of global security, and responsibility of peace and regional stability is a matter of global importance. The uninterrupted flow of oil through the Gulf and stability of oil prices are interlinked to stability of the region and the world,” he added.

JMC also addressed ways to strengthen an understanding of cultures through launch of Pakistani League that offers to the UAE a first-hand picture of real Pakistani culture.

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