Korea-Pakistan trade jumps from
$94 mil. in 80s to $1.6 bil. in 2011
The following are details of an interview with Ambassador Shaukat Ali Mukadam of Pakistan in Seoul.--Ed.
Question: What are the outstanding developments between Korea and Pakistan since your accreditation to Korea?Answer: The last three years and two months I have spent in Korea, have been full of activities both on the political plane as well as economic, trade relations. The year 2013 is of special significance as we have entered 45 years of diplomatic relations at Consul General level since 1968 and 30 years Ambassadorial level relations since 1983. In the intervening years, our relations have achieved a high trajectory.
Volume of trade which was in region of $94 million in 1980s surpassed to US$1.556 billion in 2011. However, our exports to Korea were US$736 million and Korea’s exports to Pakistan were US$819 million. Our exports increased by 85% in 2011 as compared to 2010. Again in 2012, this volume of trade further increased to US$1.623 billion with Pakistan’s exports being US$776 million and Korean exports being US$847 million.
Most of the prominent Korean conglomerates are now investing in Pakistan in hydel power plant, roads, infrastructure, chemicals plants, jetties etc. The direct and indirect investment in the last 3 years has gone to $ 3 billion.
During my tenure, the Prime Minister and the President of Pakistan visited Korea for the first time in 2012 in our 45 years history. Also, I lead a delegation of 45 investors to Pakistan from 27 February - 2 March 2013. We have been regularly participating in the Korea International Medical and Equipment Show (KIMES) at Coex and also Korean businessmen are participating in the EXPO in Karachi. Recently, a 24 member delegation visited Expo Karachi from 26-29 September 2013.
During the three years, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry also visited Korea and had fruitful meetings. During the President of Pakistan’s visit in December 2012, we managed 9 MOUs and Agreements with Korea, which is unprecedented.
Among other achievements, I also managed to get the name of Islamabad written at the Seoul Tower which was missing and introduced mangoes to the Korean market in 2012.
In the manpower exports, 3600 workers came since 2008, when the EPS System was introduced. A major portion came in the last 3 years. Also 760 students have come to Korea.
But I would like to underline that my achievements were not only because of my tireless efforts but my team of officers and staff who also worked very hard. And of course, I had the support of the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and friends in the media like Chairman of The Korea Post, Mr. Lee Kyung Sik.
Q: What are your fond memories while in Korea. What is the sad memory?A: I have many fond memories, the memory of my first Ambassadorial posting. I was promoted to the higher grade equivalent to Deputy Minister in 2011. My daughter got married during my three years tenure in Korea. I managed to shift to a new Embassy building and achieve trade and investment targets. The visits of the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan to Korea in the same year are also a milestone.
It makes me sad when I remember, why I did not learn the Korean language. Why I could not start the Korea-Pakistan direct air link and why I could not start the FTA. But the few said episodes are overshadowed by the many bright and happy successes.
Q: What are your suggestions for further promoting the relations between Korea and Pakistan?A: Improvement of trade and investment should be the priority. The power sector is suffering in Pakistan the most. Revamping the power sector should be the priority. There should be more frequent exchange of trade delegations and the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) should participate in more exhibitions in Seoul and other cities.
Q: What are your impressions of Korea before you came here and at this time when you are readying to leave?A: Before I came here, I saw Korea through the prism of Samsung and LG, the many beautiful colour TV and home appliances and mobile phones, produced in Korea. But after working three years and two months, I realized that there is much more. There is culture, history, traditions, values, a very hard working and disciplined nation, who have excelled in the state of the art technology, service, industry, architecture, culture and education.
Q: What are the most desirable areas of investment by Korean businesses in Pakistan?
A: As I said that infrastructure and the power sector are two areas, which need direct and indirect investment the most. Pakistan has a huge coal reserve of 185 billion tons and also huge potential of water and wind to harness electricity. Foreign Investment should be focused on this sector as well as the infrastructure and railways.
Q: Please state whatever we might have left out from our questionnaire?A: Yes to my Korean friends and readers, I would like to share that Pakistan and Korea relations are deep routed. It was the Pakistani and Korean workers, who toiled in the hot summers of the Middle East in the 60s and 70s building the roads and infrastructure, where the labour of many other countries could not stand the heat of above 45o C.
Again when Samsung C&T built the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, it was the Pakistani workers and technicians and crane drivers who worked, as many crane drivers could not stand the dizzy height. Also, we are proud to share with Korea, the Five Year Plans, made by one of our former Finance Ministers, Dr. Mahboob-ul-Haq, when he was in the United Nations some four decades ago. k
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