KARACHI: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael will visit Belgium in April. He is scheduled to meet Belgian officials and business leaders to discuss a number of opportunities and options of bilateral trade and co-operation in different fields.
Pakistan plans to sign development projects worth billions of dollars with Belgium in the fields of marine education, sea bourn trade, fishing and ports development. The Federal Minister has held a detailed meeting with Belgian Ambassador to Pakistan Peter Claes and discussed a number of business opportunities.
The minister has also discussed some projects with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, likely to be initiated with the support of Belgian government. The Prime Minister and other relevant ministries and officials have also been taken into confidence over the projects.
The federal minister will have a five-day official trip to Belgium where he would sign a memorandum of understanding with the Belgian authorities. The ministry has prepared its MoU to be signed with the Belgian authorities and it has been vetted by relevant officials as well. Kamran Michael is planning to enhance fishing trade with Belgium apart by getting technical assistance from the country to upgrade Gwadar port. He will visit three Belgian sea ports during his stay in the country.
Earlier European Union had slapped a ban on the export of fish from Pakistan in 2007, but it has now been lifted. Michael wants to enhance the fish export to European countries, especially Belgium. “We are hopeful to achieve our set target,” he said. The minister has also been eyeing some 100 scholarships from Belgium government for Pakistani marine cadets and technical staff to boost their capabilities and skills.
“We will ask Belgium to provide Pakistan with needed infrastructure assistance and expertise to convert our marine academy into a marine university,” Kamran Michael said, adding that there is no marine university in the entire region of South Asia. Belgium is particularly interested in making some investments at Gwadar port, he said, adding that various options for different projects have already been discussed with the Belgian ambassador.
“It is premature to disclose some expected Belgium projects for Gwadar port, but I can say with certainty that Belgium is going to invest millions of dollars in Pakistan,” he said.
A spokesman for the ministry, Mohammad Ali Shah, said that the federal minister will travel to Belgium for a five-day official trip in April. “We are struggling to boost our trade with Belgium and the trip would help achieve the target,” he said.
Shah said that Belgium was particularly interested for investment in Gwadar and different options were being explored for this purpose. “We are also going to discuss some development projects pertaining to Karachi Port and Port Qasim with relevant Belgium authorities to get required funding, expertise and technical assistance,” he said.