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Speech by State Secretary Stephan Steinlein at the opening of the bureau of the “German Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry” in Lahore

26.09.2016 - Speech

Your Excellency Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha,
Chairman German Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mr. Qazi Sajid Ali,
President of the Lahore Office of the Chamber Mr. Masud Akhtar,
Representatives of our Chamber,
Honorary Consul Arif Saeed,
Ambassador Ina Lepel,
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen!

It is a great honor – and even more a great pleasure! - to be here today on the occasion of the inauguration of the Lahore Office of the German Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GPCCI). And what a start indeed: I am especially glad that travelling with me is a delegation of German businessmen. Hence the GPCCI can from day 1 of its existence onwards do what it is meant to do: Create business contacts between Germany and Pakistan in order to foster investments and trade relations.

When I came to Pakistan for the first time in my office as secretary of state, Pakistan seemed an exotic place for many German businesspeople. To be frank: It still is. But interest is growing year by year. Hence this is now, after Karachi, the second place in Pakistan where we are establishing structures to bring together trade interests. A very good development indeed!

Looking at the history of Lahore it seems to me that we have not only found a very good time, but also an excellent place to establish this chamber: Lahore – which by the way is double the size of Berlin – is the industrial and cultural capital of North-East Pakistan. „Lahore, Lahore aye” – Lahore is Lahore: This traditional sentence mirrors how unique the “pearl of the Punjab” is. And not only is this the title of a very popular song, but also a promise people need to experience here!

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Connecting people seems to be in the DNA of Lahore, looking also at geography. Equally, in each and every area of life, “connectivity” is the new buzzword. This is especially true for business relations. The Lahore Office of the German Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and industry intends to become a nucleus especially for this. I would like to offer and encourage two possible ways how this connectivity can be achieved:

Firstly, the GPCCI can and should be a valuable platform to connecting German and Pakistani companies. Many German companies still don’t know enough about the Pakistani market. Together with the GPCCI, the German government will continue to encourage German companies to visit Pakistan and evaluate opportunities. This is also the goal of the delegation accompanying me: to learn more about Pakistan, to explore the market, to look for business partners and to start or to expand their trade and investment here.

A second way how GPCCI can contribute to further strengthening of our bilateral business relations is to continue facilitating and promoting Technical and Vocational Training. Vocational training is a “flagship” of Germany and of its economy. Looking at Pakistan’s demography (average age 20,8 years) the potential is very much in the youth! Hence to provide a sound and solid training is a necessary prerequisite for growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

in 2015 bilateral trade between Pakistan and Germany has increased by around 15%. We are working hard to continue this trend. I am convinced that the GPCCI will make an important contribution.

But this will not be possible without you, standing here: You are all Ambassadors for Germany, for the “land of ideas”! I would like to thank you for that, and to encourage you to continue this path. If we combine German and Pakistan ideas, we will be even stronger!

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank you publicly for your cooperation and your energy in strengthening our bilateral relations, especially our business relations. You always promote an open door for German companies. I am looking forward to continue this good cooperation and I would like to ask you to extend this cooperation to the GPCCI and its members as well.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

“If you haven't seen Lahore, you haven't even been born” – let us try and make this proverb true for as many people as possible. I hope the GPCCI can be the nucleus for fruitful German Pakistan economic relations!

Thank you.

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