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Finland envoy for promoting trade, cultural activities

FAISALABAD: Finland Ambassador Rauli Suikkanen has said that a Pak-Finland business summit is being arranged as promotion of bilateral trade and economic ties is at the top of his agenda.

He was addressing the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Tuesday. “The Finland Embassy in Pakistan was closed due to financial constraints in Oct 2012. However, I am performing my diplomatic duties as a roving ambassador. It is my third visit to Pakistan and the first visit to Faisalabad. The objective of my visit is to promote bilateral trade ties besides promotion of cultural activities,” he said.

The Finland envoy mentioned a recently signed MOU between the Museum associations of both the countries, which were collaborating in specific field. He said that the 3.6 per cent growth rate of the GDP in Pakistan was appreciable and beyond expectation. “Pakistan is on the path to progress in all spheres of life.” He said that Finland was making efforts to play its role in the development of Pakistan with enhanced investment by Finnish companies. He disclosed that two companies were conducting market survey and expected to set up viable industries in Karachi and Lahore.

About the appointment of honorary consul general in Faisalabad, he said that currently two honorary consul generals were working in Karachi and Lahore, while the third one would be appointed in Islamabad. “Later, we will think about the appointment of another honorary consul general in Faisalabad,” he said.

In his address, FCCI president Sohail Bin Rashid appreciated the Finnish government’s eagerness to strengthen cultural ties and cooperation linking Finnish and Pakistani Museum associations where Faisalabad’s Lyallpur Museum was a key player in the programme.

He said that Pakistan and Finland had been enjoying good bilateral and diplomatic relations since 1951. “In FY2012, bilateral trade stood at US$ 141.2 million almost in favour of both countries as Pakistan exported goods worth US$ 71.23 million to Finland, while imports stood at US$69.97 million.” He said that ample opportunities of joint ventures existed between two countries. “Pakistan is the most promising land in the region for investment. Finnish companies can invest in Pakistan while expanding their businesses across Pakistan and beyond.”

He said that nearly 400 Finnish companies were currently operating in South Asia and had made substantial investment during the last decade. He hoped more Finnish investment in Pakistan in future. He proposed frequent exchange of trade delegations, identification and trade of more products where both the countries had competitive edge, single-country exhibitions in both the countries and tapping other areas of joint ventures and investment like technology transfer and up-gradation, information technology and collaboration in technical and vocational training.

Lyallpur Museum Director Attique briefed the participants about the cooperation between museum associations of both countries. FCCI vice-president Ch Muhammad Asghar, Main Zahid Aslam, Muzammal Sultan, Ayub Sabir, Mian Javed Iqbal, Farhan Latif, FCCI former presidents Rehan Nasim Bharara, Dr Habib Aslam Gaba and Noshaba also spoke.