Pakistan and Japan on Thursday reviewed spectrum of business and investment relations, identified areas for further strengthening and expanding economic cooperation between the two countries. The bilateral issues of mutual interest came up to discussion during a call-on meeting of Ambassador of Japan, Kuninori Matsuda with Federal Minister for Finance, Revenue, Industries and Production, Muhammad Hammad Azhar. Speaking on the occasion, the finance minister stated that Pakistan and Japan had enjoyed cordial and friendly relations over the years and this relationship would continue to become even stronger with every passing day. He appreciated the support extended by the government of Japan for infrastructural and institutional development in Pakistan, adding Japan was a major development partner of Pakistan. The minister underlined the initiatives taken by the government which led to economic turnaround. He said, Pakistan’s primary deficit has been converted into a surplus due to strict adherence to fiscal discipline. The country’s fiscal response to COVID-19 has been prudent and well-targeted, including re-allocation of spending to the most vulnerable segments through the landmark Ehsaas program. The minister lauded the valuable investment by Japan in various sectors particularly in the automobile sector and affirmed to facilitate Japanese investors and businessmen for undertaking major investment initiatives amid rising demand for innovative business products and services in Pakistan. He also commended the contribution of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for socio-economic development and reform initiatives aimed at poverty reduction & human development in the country. Hammad thanked the Kuninori Matsuda for his efforts in furthering Pakistan-Japan relations. On the occasion, the ambassador said that Japan greatly values its bilateral relations with Pakistan. He briefed the Finance Minister about operations of the Japanese entities in Pakistan and expressed confidence that business and economic linkages would further strengthen between the two countries. E&P companies: A delegation, comprising heads of different Exploration and Production (E&P) companies, Thursday called on Minister for Energy Omar Ayub Khan and discussed matters related to the oil and gas sector. The chief executive officers of E&P companies including Dewan Group, Orient Petroleum, Oil and Gas Development Company, Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Mari Petroleum, Petroleum Exploration Company and the PGiNG were part of the delegation, a Petroleum Division news release said. Speaking on the occasion, the minister said that the revival of exploration and production activities in the country was the key objective of the incumbent government which had been ignored by previous governments. He said the current government also aimed at achieving self-sufficiency in the oil and gas sector by auctioning new E&P blocks and accelerating the exploration activities. Omar Ayub also highlighted the government’s pro-investment policies, ease-of-doing-business strategy in the petroleum sector and efforts to ensure transparency for providing a level-playing field to all competitors. The minister said the increased E&P activities would help expand the oil & gas business, create job opportunities in the country and decrease the oil import bill. The delegation thanked and appreciated the government efforts for positive developments in the E&P sector and the smooth resolution of regulatory issues pertaining to Petroleum Concessions (PCs). The meeting also discussed the upcoming bidding rounds for the auction of new oil and gas blocks, revocation of existing/non-performing blocks and amendment in PPRA (Public Procurement Regulatory Authority) rules for the state-owned oil and gas entities. E-commerce: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) President,Sardar Masood Khan on Thursday said AJK has fertile and required conducive environment to establish successful online businesses and to improve the earning potential and employability among the educated youth in the state. He stated this after chairing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between AJK Board of Investment and M/S Extreme Commerce (EC) held at Jammu and Kashmir House in the federal metropolis, AJK President office said. Chairman Board of Investment Azad Kashmir Naveed Sadiq, Secretary Industries, Khawaja Ahsan and the officials of Extreme Commerce were also present on the occasion. Under the MoU, the EC will provide training on digital facilities to AJK students to help them learn wide range of skills for establishing successful online businesses. The Extreme Commerce is a skilled-based learning platform, which has been designed to impart knowledge on topics that can enable the students to start earning after learning. “I appreciate the chairman Board of Investment, Naveed Sadiq for taking this initiative and to make AJK the hub of e-commerce, which would create new opportunities for our young students in e-marketing, especially in supply chains,” he said.