France reaffirms commitment to upgrade AETC to Ministerial level with Pakistan
Along with an announcement to start manufacture vehicles of major French companies including Renault in Pakistan, France has also emphasized the need to further strengthen ties through the institutional mechanism of Administrative, Economic and Trade Committee (AETC) as well as reaffirmed commitment to upgrade AETC to Ministerial level.
French Development Agency (AFD) has approved a portfolio of Euros 265 million as soft loans for Rehabilitation of Mangla Hydropower plant, augmenting NTDC transmission capacity and budget support for energy sector reforms for the year 2016. AFD has joined ADB and JICA in the 5 year budget support program initiated in 2014 for improving the management of tariff opening the market and strengthening accountability and transparency in the energy sector. AFD also evinced interest in working in the sectors of heritage and culture. Due course of discussions with the visiting Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, French Finance Minister Michel Sapin congratulated Pakistan over joining the Open Government Partnership process and also appreciated the ratification by Pakistan of the OECD Convention on Mutual Assistance on Tax Matters. Sapin acknowledged Pakistan’s economic achievements and expressed hope that the journey towards further progress and development would continue.
Both the Ministers also discussed trade, economic and investment relations between the two countries. They expressed satisfaction over the upward trajectory of bilateral relations, including decision by French automobile company Renault to start manufacturing vehicles in Pakistan. The Finance Minister invited Mr. Sapin to visit Pakistan to co-chair the next meeting of AETC. Prior to that, both sides would meet early next year at Secretary level to prepare the ground for the Ministerial meeting. Secretary Economic Affairs Division and Ambassador of Pakistan to France were also present at the meeting.
On that occasion, Pakistani Finance Minister observed that Pakistan attached to transparency in public matters and his intention to make Pakistan a member of OECD Convention against Bribery in due course. He briefed Minister Sapin on the turnaround of Pakistan’s economy in the last three years, macroeconomic stability, and improvement of energy and security situation in the country, which has provided conducive atmosphere for foreign direct investment.
Similarly, Chief Executive Officer of French Development Agency (AFD) Mr. Remy Rioux appreciated the progress that Pakistan had made in stabilizing economy and taking it to a higher trajectory of growth. AFD has been operating in Pakistan since 2007. It is promoting green and inclusive growth and has been focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
During the meeting, Finance Minister said that Pakistan values the financial assistance provided by AFD to Pakistan in important sectors including energy, water and sanitation. He added that Pakistan government appreciates AFD’s support for GoP initiatives for improving the transmission efficiency and water and sanitation in Pakistan.
Chief Executive Officer Open government Partnership (OGP) Sanjay Pradhan also extended heartiest felicitations to Minister Dar on joining the elite group of members of OGP, invited Pakistan to participate in the meetings of various OGP Working Groups and Steering Committees and offered help in developing Pakistan’s National Action Plan for OGP.
The Finance Minister said that Pakistan’s decision to join OGP demonstrates government’s commitment to transparent and accountable governance. He reiterated government’s pledge to work against corruption and fiscal fraud and further high level commitments to fully achieving and sustaining the principles of OGP.
Head of Middle East Division of Renault, the French largest car manufacturing company Bernard Cambier reaffirmed Renault’s decision for setting up their car manufacturing facility in Pakistan by 2018. Finance Minister appreciated Renault’s decision for choosing Pakistan for establishing their car facility and assured full support for Renault’s operations in Pakistan. It is pertinent to note here that Pakistani Finance Minister Ishaq Dar paid an official visit to France to represent Pakistan in the closing session of the 75th Anniversary Celebrations of French Agency for Development (AFD) hosted by the President of France Francoise Hollande in Paris. President of Guinea and Prime Minister of Haiti, Finance Ministers from a number of countries, French parliamentarians, diplomats and members of the civil society also attended the ceremony. French Agency for Development is a financial institution and main implementing agency for France’s official development assistance for developing countries aiming to contribute to economic and social development in diverse geographical areas for improving the living conditions of the people. Its programs mainly focus on financing for energy efficiency and hydropower projects, adding value to Pakistan’s efforts in tackling energy shortages in the country.