Pakistan looking forward to free trade agreement with EU: President Zardari

* President meets with FoDP countries’ ambassadors
* Says country’s already fragile economy suffered setback due to flood devastation

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan looks forward to a comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union and a solid, multidimensional and comprehensive partnership with the international community and not just a “donor-recipient” relationship, President Asif Ali Zardari said on Saturday.

The president made these comments during a dinner meeting with Friends of Democratic Pakistan (FoDP) countries’ ambassadors at the Presidency.

The ambassadors present at the occasion included Daniel Jouanneau of France, Ali Saif Sultan Al Awani of the UAE, Chihiro Atsumi of Japan, Mustafa Babur Hizlan of Turkey, Adam Thomson of the United Kingdom and Choi Choong-Joo of Korea.

Talking with the ambassadors, the president said the war against terrorism on one hand, and the recent devastating floods on the other, had created a situation that needed to be addressed through a joint effort.

“Hardly had the country’s economy started showing signs of recovery when it was hit hard by the recent calamity of floods,” he said. “This was a situation that no country could handle on its own without proactive assistance from the international community,” the president added.

The president said that we were thankful to the United Nations and our friends, who had pleaded our case and invited the attention of the international community towards the countless miseries of the flood-affected people of Pakistan. He said that we owe our gratitude to all those who had stepped forward and contributed towards mitigating the sufferings of the people in distress.

Discussing the post-flood rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts, the president said the government was mobilising all available domestic resources, including imposition of a one-time flood tax on the well to do people in order to generate indigenous resources.

He added that the Sindh government was already working on legislation for the one-time flood tax, in consultation with coalition partners and other stakeholders. “But simultaneously, Pakistan looks forward to continuing assistance of the international community, especially the countries of the European Union,” the president said.

Source Daily Times