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French firm plans to set up solar power plant

A French solar energy company is eyeing Pakistan with interest in an attempt to set up a mega solar power plant, an indication that foreign investors are looking at the country positively.

These remarks were made by French embassy’s Head of Economic Section in Pakistan Eric Noitakis while talking to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Engineer Sohail Lashari at the chamber on Friday.

The diplomat said the solar company had committed to putting in investment into establishing the plant in Pakistan and he wanted to share this with the business community because this showed that foreigners were looking at Pakistan positively.

He said Parco, a subsidiary of French donor agency AFD, could offer $15 million in support of private sector projects in Pakistan, providing a great opportunity for the sector to get funds for its viable projects.

He asked the LCCI to take lead and bring an 80-plus delegation to France from different chambers in Punjab in order to deepen bilateral trade. In the second half of 2014, he said, a French business delegation would visit Pakistan, if the LCCI brought its delegation in the first half of the year.

Regional trade was very important and Pakistan and India should promote bilateral trade as it was the best way to change the mindset of people in both countries, he remarked.

Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI president stressed that the chamber wanted to sign a mediation deal with the Paris Chamber of Commerce for resolving disputes between Pakistani and French businessmen.

“We are going to start video conferencing at the Lahore Chamber to promote interaction with chambers around the world,” he said.

Lashari said a mediation centre had been established to help private sector companies resolve disputes swiftly and easily since cases in commercial courts often consumed a lot of money and time. “It (the centre) will avoid full-scale court procedures and dramatically reduce the time and cost of resolving disputes,” he said.

He asked French companies to target Pakistan as a potential market for their brands keeping in view the size of the consumer market, which is over 180 million, and extravagant spending by the rich.

“More than half of our population constitutes the youth who are brand conscious and also inclined to follow the fashion trends. So, I think more and more French brands can be introduced in Pakistan to tap such a huge segment of the society,” he suggested.

Catalogue exhibitions, franchise fairs and sharing trade information could also play a vital role in enhancing bilateral trade.

Pakistan’s major exports to France are clothes, hosiery items, bed and kitchen linens, appliances used in medical sciences, floating docks and light vessels, footwear, carpets, rice and leather goods.

Its imports include turbo-jets, turbo-propellers and other gas turbines, aircraft parts, electricity generating sets, rotary converters, medicated mixtures, seeds and natural milk products.

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