ISLAMABAD – Pakistan’s prime minister and Turkey’s president agreed on Thursday to wrap up a bilateral free-trade agreement in 2017.
Nawaz Sharif and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who arrived Wednesday on his fourth visit to Pakistan, said in a press briefing that they expected the agreement to be finalized in 2017, the 70th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations.
Pakistan and Turkey began negotiations on the trade pact in 2015 and have since held four meetings to seal the agreement, most recently in August in Islamabad.
The countries are counting on the accord to give a boost to bilateral trade, which has been on the decline in recent years and amounted to $599 million in 2015.
Sharif said at the press conference that he foresaw a transformation of the nations’ “special relationship” into a “strategic relationship.”
Erdogan, for his part, thanked Pakistan for its support during the attempted coup in Turkey in July and for its decision to order the expulsion of Turkish teachers with PakTurk International Schools and Colleges, an organization allegedly affiliated with U.S.-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen.
Turkey accuses Gulen of being behind the attempted putsch.
Ergodan, who is accompanied by a trade delegation, also has met with President Mamnoon Hussain and addressed the Pakistani parliament during this latest visit.