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FAISALABAD: Pakistan and Finland will hold a business summit in the near future in an attempt to push bilateral trade and economic ties, which is high on the agenda, says Rauli Suikkanen, Ambassador of Finland to Pakistan.

Speaking to members of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Tuesday, Suikkanen described Pakistan’s economic growth rate of 3.6% last year as appreciable and beyond expectation and said Pakistan was on the right path to progress in all spheres of life.

Finland was also making efforts to play its role in the development of Pakistan with enhanced investment by Finnish companies, he said, adding two companies were conducting market surveys and were expected to set up viable industrial units in Karachi and Lahore.

The ambassador cited financial constraints as the reason for the closure of Finland Embassy in October 2012, but said he was performing his diplomatic duties as a roving ambassador.

“This is my third visit to Pakistan but it is for the first time I am visiting Faisalabad. The objective is to promote bilateral trade in addition to stepping up cultural activities,” he said.

Recently, museum associations of the two countries have signed a memorandum of understanding for collaboration.

Responding to the demand for appointing an honorary consul general in Faisalabad, he said two consuls general were already working in Karachi and Lahore and the third was expected to be nominated for Islamabad. “After that, we would think about appointing a consul general in Faisalabad.”

FCCI President Engineer Suhail Bin Rashid said Pakistan and Finland had enjoyed good bilateral and diplomatic relations since 1951. In fiscal year 2011-12, bilateral trade stood at $141.2 million, which was almost evenly balanced, as Pakistan exported $71.23 million worth of goods while its imports from Finland stood at $69.97 million.

He saw ample opportunities of joint ventures, stressing Pakistan was the most promising land in the region for investment and Finnish corporations could invest here while expanding their business across Pakistan and beyond.

He said nearly 400 Finnish companies were working in the South Asian region, which had made substantial investments in the last 10 years.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 19th, 2014.