French Ambassador to Pakistan Philippe Thiebaud has said that France is ready to provide assistance and technology to Pakistan in hydro power generation projects and agriculture sector, enabling it cope with the prevailing energy crisis.

Addressing members of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) on Tuesday, the French envoy underscored the need for enhancing bilateral trade volume between France and Pakistan, adding that it was for strenuous collective efforts to strengthen bilateral trade ties. The French Ambassador expressed the hope that Pakistani exports to European Union market would increase manifolds after the implementation of GSP Plus status in April next.

He pointed out that currently Pakistani exports to France were worth 600 million Euros and hoped that the exports would be increased with special collective efforts. Several French companies are investing in different sectors in Pakistan and efforts are being made bring in more invest, he added. The French ambassador pointed out that French Embassy in Pakistan would grant visa to business community of Sialkot on the recommendation of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry which would help improve the trade volume between the two countries as well as provide an opportunity to business communities of both the countries to develop direct trade relations.

On this occasion, the French Ambassador lauded the unique export culture, production and craftsmanship of Sialkot.

In his welcome address, SCCI President Dr Sarfraz Bashir said that Pakistan and France had a long history of close ties in all fields whether political, economic, culture and defence. Both friendly countries have common perception about most of international political and economic issues he said.

He stated that the bilateral trade between Pakistan and France was quite promising and in 2012 bilateral trade was around one billion Euros with keen interest and desire from both sides to increase trade. "We do hope that a new era will herald in the shapers of economic cooperation between the private sectors of both the sides. It is important that consolidated information is provided to Pakistani and French companies regarding all aspects of identification of trade, business and investment opportunities in both the countries he said.

French Economic Counsellor Eric Noitakis also spoke on the occasion.

Meanwhile, French Ambassador Philippe Thiebaud assured that the France would help Pakistan to flourish the leather and leather garments industry and extend support and technical assistance in fashion designing for this industry.

He was talking to leather exporters during a meeting under the auspices of Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association here. PLGMEA Chairman Maj (r) Sh Rafiq Sethi was also present on this occasion.

The PLGMEA chairman apprised the visiting French Ambassador that Pakistan's leather industry was second in the world after Italy. He said that Pakistan's leather industry was in dire need of reorganisation on modern lines, especially in fashion and designing, saying that French technical support will help to boost and modernize Pakistan's leather and leather garments industry.

The ambassador agreed with PLGMEA suggestions and pledged to make all out sincere efforts to remove all hurdles from the way of development of and modernization of Pakistan's leather and leather garments industry.

Later, while talking to leading exporters and industrialists of Sialkot during his visit to some leading industrial units, Phillippe Thiebaud said that France would develop and promote the SMEs sector in Pakistan, besides, intending to develop strong economical relations with Pakistan, saying that France desired to see Pakistani economy developed. He said that France was keen to boost mutual trade ties, pledging to make efforts to remove all the hurdles from the way of promotion of mutual trade between Pakistan and France.

French Ambassador stressed upon the need of making some effective joint efforts to boost mutual trade between Pakistan and France. He said that France would encourage regular exchange of the mutual trade delegations between France and Pakistan.

Earlier, the French Ambassador also visited several leading industrial units amid tight security. He witnessed the internationals standard craftsmanship of Sialkot-based artisans.