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Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Shahbaz Sharif, Mrs Herkes, Mr Dircks, Mr Sajid,
I am very pleased to welcome you, Chief Minister, and your delegation here in Berlin today to the Pakistan Business Days in Germany. You are heading the largest and highest ranking Pakistani trade delegation that ever visited Germany. When I met Prime Minister Nawaz on his first day in office last June we agreed to support the Pakistan Business Days in Germany. My sincere thanks for the swift implementation of this idea go to the Pakistan German Business Forum and the Association of German Chambers of Commerce.
Bilateral trade between Germany and Pakistan amounts to 2 billion euros per year. This is only a small fraction of Germany’s global trade in spite of Pakistan’s strategic geographic location, its immense natural resources and its growing middle class. Pakistan will become even more attractive, if the European Parliament grants Pakistan improved market access under the GSP Plus (Generalized System of Preferences) framework. I have been personally engaged in the last years to make this happen.
The German business community should carefully consider the potential and the opportunities that are offered by the Pakistani market, particularly against the background of several positive developments in the recent months.
Pakistan’s democracy has been strengthened by the elections this year. For the first time in Pakistan’s history Parliament and the President have completed a full term.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made it clear that improving relations with India will be a priority for his Government.
Pakistan has adopted a constructive approach in its relations to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s support for the Afghan peace process will help to make the region more stable.
The newly elected Government has taken first important steps to overcome the energy crisis. The recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund has restored confidence in Pakistan’s economic policy.
I encourage the Government of Pakistan to continue its reform policy, even if some of the necessary steps will be unpopular, like raising the tax base or restructuring public enterprises.
Legal security for investors still needs to be improved. The forthcoming new National Security Policy should lay the ground work for addressing the security challenges.
Chief Minister, your Government in Punjab has a good reputation for its business-friendly policies. I would be grateful if your Government were to offer your good offices to assist German companies once they enter the Pakistani market. German companies are sought-after partners who have much to offer. They are interested in building long-term partnerships between equals, not in quick profits. German companies come to stay.
I have visited Pakistan three times now. Chief Minister, I never forget my highway trip due to flight cancellations through the beautiful Punjab! I have seen a fascinating country and met people who want to work hard for a prosperous future. German and Pakistani businesses should build on this together.
Thank you very much for your attention.