Pakistan wholeheartedly backs UAE’s COP28 efforts, says Caretaker PM - GulfToday

Pakistan wholeheartedly backs UAE’s COP28 efforts, says Caretaker PM


Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar speaks during COP28 in Dubai. AFP

Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor

Pakistan and the UAE enjoy time-tested fraternal relations rooted deep in common faith, shared history and people to people contacts.

“The UAE and Pakistan enjoy an all-encompassing strategic relationship. This is a relationship that is characterised by solidarity and understanding resulting from our strong leadership level contacts and close cooperation on regional and international issues over the years,” said

Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar, Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan, during an exclusive interview with Gulf Today Business Editor Inayat-ur-Rahman in Dubai. Here are the details of the interview:

Q: Your Excellency, welcome to Dubai. This is your first official visit as a Caretaker Prime Minister to the UAE. How do you see the historic ties between Pakistan and the UAE and what are your plans to take it to the next level?

A: Pakistan and the UAE enjoy time-tested fraternal relations rooted deep in common faith, shared history and people to people contacts. The foundation of our strong relations was laid by His Highness (Late) Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and nurtured by the successive leaderships of both the countries through close contacts and bilateral visits. The UAE and Pakistan enjoy an all-encompassing strategic relationship. This is a relationship that is characterised by solidarity and understanding resulting from our strong leadership level contacts and close cooperation on regional and international issues over the years. We would do our best to further strengthen and diversify our brotherly ties by focusing on trade, investment and people- to-people contacts.

Q: The UAE is one of the largest trading partners of Pakistan in the Mena region. Can you mention the average annual trade between the two countries and how much bilateral trade has occurred between Pakistan and the UAE in 2023?

A: The UAE remains Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East North Africa (Mena) region with an average annual trade of  $9 billion. The UAE is one of the top export destinations for Pakistan. Overall Pakistan and the UAE enjoy complementarity of economies. Pakistan’s exports to the UAE include agriculture products, textiles and manpower. The UAE, on the other hand, exports petroleum, petrochemical products and hi-tech equipment to Pakistan. The two countries also exchange services with each other. IT, AI and Fin-tech are new areas of collaboration with much greater potential. Pakistan-UAE bilateral trade during 2022-23 amounted to $9 billion.

Importantly Pakistan’s exports to UAE have surged to $1.4 billion in FY 2022-23, highest in the last five years.

Q: Do you plan to open more avenues of UAE investment in Pakistan? What are the key areas Pakistan is offering to the UAE business community which are untapped?

A: Attracting foreign investment in all sectors of Pakistan’s economy is the government’s top priority. Pakistan’s Investment Policy has been designed to provide a comprehensive framework for creating a conducive business environment for attraction of FDI from all parts of the world including the UAE. The policy trends are consistent with liberalisation, deregulation, privatisation, and facilitation being its foremost cornerstone. The country is open for all types of businesses.

Currently, there are over 1,000 multinational companies profitably operating in Pakistan, and for many, Pakistan is the most profitable part of their franchise. Foreign companies, individuals, multinational corporations can own 100 per cent shares in locally incorporated or unincorporated firms.

In order to enhance bilateral investment co-operation between Pakistan and the UAE, let me allow mentioning here that Pakistan enjoys a very historic, cultural and fraternal relationship with the UAE. However, there is much need to enhance investment cooperation. The two countries could further enhance this cooperation in areas such as agriculture, energy, mining, IT, logistics and defence. In order to revive the economy, we are keenly working to attract foreign investors and recently established the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to generate new and attractive investment opportunities from GCC countries in priority sectors such as agriculture, mining, IT manufacturing and defence. There are numerous investment opportunities available in Pakistan for UAE investors.  I urge UAE investors to explore the Pakistani market for new avenues and enhance economic and commercial ties with Pakistan.

Q: Does your Government plan to host Roadshows in the UAE and other parts of the world to attract foreign direct investment to the country? How was the feedback of the recently concluded Pakistan Investment Road Show in Dubai?

A: Pakistan is planning a comprehensive investment promotion strategy in major countries including the UAE. The Pakistan Investment Road Show, organised by the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) in Dubai, attracted a large number of global businessmen and investors. The officials of SIFC held extensive engagements with global investors, highlighting immense potential and investment opportunities in Pakistan. Projects under SIFC were also pitched for attracting prospective investments in the key sectors. The initiative gained enormous attraction and during engagements, the investor community was given insights for transforming investment climate in the country through the SIFC platform.

Utilising the platform, 30 Pakistani firms presented their project proposals and growth strategies encompassing various domains including Agriculture, IT and Energy. The event also included a structured panel discussion, involving public and private experts, to synthesise the investment landscape of Pakistan vis-a-vis emerging markets and way forward to tap in the

opportunities. The ongoing mega roadshow was the first of its kind in the country’s history to mobilise foreign investment in Pakistan on a global stage.

Q: You led a high-level Pakistan delegation to COP28 in Dubai. What is your government’s contribution to the mega event and how optimistic are you that COP28 will play a key role in zero carbon emissions and climate change initiatives?

A: Pakistan wholeheartedly appreciates the efforts of the UAE government in hosting the COP28 in Dubai and we are very thankful for the hospitality of our UAE brothers. The present global situation in terms of climate change, unfortunately, is very bleak. There is an increased occurrence of extreme events everywhere, especially in the least and developing world wherein the coping capacities to deal with such disasters are already low. Humanity is suffering hard from the climate change effects. The annual average global temperature will likely hit 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level in the next five years instead of 2100 as targeted in the Paris Agreement 2015. The climatic catastrophe predicted for 2050 is already here for the Global South: therefore, all affected countries urgently need to shift to Climate Adaptation.

The climate reports released most recently like, Emissions Gap Report, Global Stocktake Report and Adaptation Gap Report all do not present a good state of affairs and identify that human actions are far behind the commitments, asserting this decade is decisive for climate action. Failure to act immediately will lead to worse devastation on an unprecedented scale.

Implementing the commitments is essential for which framing the means of implementation is pivotal. With high hopes and challenges Pakistan’s contingent (of experts and professionals) is also participating in the COP. The Pakistan delegation, which will highlight the proactive actions the government is taking towards climate change, will also contribute towards the deliberations, negotiations on establishing a Loss and Damage mechanism, agreeing on a New Collective

Quantified Goal on Climate Finance (NCQG), shaping the Framework for Global Goal on

Adaptation and towards the streams on mitigation, global stocktake and Enhanced Transparency Framework.

Pakistan holds the belief that with collective action based on Common but Differentiated Responsibilities and Respective Capabilities (CBDR) we can make a common ground and in getting to this we need to adopt a framework which is based on fast track energy transition, agreement on climate finance goal – in recognition that the developing countries require around $2.4 trillion in annual investment by 2030 focusing on adaptation, resilience, mitigating loss and damage.

At the National level, several mitigation measures and adaptation actions are already being undertaken with domestic resources. These measures and actions can be intensified in coming years with expected availability of international climate finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity building.

Q: How do you see the valuable contribution of overseas Pakistanis in the UAE in terms of sending remittances back home? What is your message to overseas Pakistanis to send remittances through legal banking channels? What are the government’s plans to facilitate overseas Pakistanis back home?

A: The valuable contribution of overseas Pakistanis in the UAE through remittances significantly supports the Pakistani economy. These financial inflows contribute to foreign exchange reserves and help stabilise the country’s economic outlook. Since 1971, more than 4.2 million intending emigrants have been registered with BEOE for overseas employment in the UAE and their contribution has been instrumental in maintaining economic stability of both countries. Notably, the UAE stands as the second-highest destination following KSA from where Pakistan receives remittances. Over the past five years, Pakistan has received a substantial remittance amount of $28.4 billion from the UAE.

Overseas Pakistanis in the UAE, like those in other countries, contribute significantly to Pakistan’s economy through remittances. The UAE is home to 1.8 million Pakistani expatriates, and their remittances play a vital role in stabilising the country’s economy. These remittances contribute to foreign exchange reserves, help in poverty reduction, and support the financial well-being of families in Pakistan. Pakistani workers’ remittances inflow of $ 8.8 billion has been recorded during the first four months of Financial Year 2023-24; out of this an amount of $1,497.6 million has been received as remittances from the UAE.

Further, sending remittances through legal banking channels brings several positive impacts. It makes a substantial contribution to the national economy with the funds being tracked, measuredand utilised for economic development and ensures financial security for both the sender and the recipient by reducing the risks associated with fraud or loss.

Moreover, the use of legal channels also plays a role in strengthening the banking infrastructure, fostering the growth of the financial system and increasing accessibility to banking services for the general population. Additionally, legal remittances contribute to the stability of the local currency by ensuring a consistent flow of foreign exchange which manages exchange rates and creates a more stable economic environment.

In terms of government plans to facilitate overseas Pakistanis back home, the Government of Pakistan often offers various incentives and takes various measures to facilitate overseas Pakistanis such as National Remittance Loyalty Programme (NRLP), Roshan Digital Account, Sohni Dharti Remittance etc. to increase the volume of remittances and to promote legal channels of sending remittances back.

The provision of an active bank account has been made mandatory for registration of foreign employment agreement at Protector of Emigrant offices, so that emigrants may remit their earnings to the given accounts. In this regard, an account opening facility is being provided at each Protector Office.

Furthermore, in order to facilitate the intending emigrants, BEOE has shifted its various manual operational processes to an MIS based digital system which includes registration of Foreign Service Agreements (FSA) of intending emigrants, and complaint redressal management system. Efforts for opening new PE offices are also under way to facilitate the intending emigrants.

Recently, the e-Protector registration has also been launched to facilitate the intending emigrants on Direct Employment Visa. By this initiative the intending emigrant of Direct Employment Category can get him/herself registered online without visiting the Protectorate of Emigrant offices and the online registered worker will be issued an e-Protector registration certificate via given email bearing the QR code which may be used by the emigration authorities at the airport for verification. In addition, BEOE provides real-time information on overseas job opportunities on its website and collaborates with the Overseas Employment Corporation (OEC) and NAVTTC for skill match-making for export of competitive and informed workforce. Further, the Overseas Pakistani Foundation (OPF) is providing various welfare and support services to overseas

Pakistanis which include legal assistance, financial aid in times of need etc. OPF also provides access to education and healthcare services for the families of overseas Pakistanis with the aim of improving the overall well-being of those who have migrated.

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