ISLAMABAD  - President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday invited Japanese businessmen to take advantage of natural resource potential, trained and hard working work force, geographic location of Pakistan and invest in various sectors for mutual benefit of the two countries.Addressing Pakistan-Japan Business Roundtable Meeting here at Aiwan-e-Sadr, the President said that Pakistan has enormous potential and opportunities. The President said year 2012 is a special year for Pakistan-Japan relations and he has special feelings for Japan. This is the year of celebrations of the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations and also a year of reflection on what more needs to be done to take relations of Pakistan and Japan to new heights, the President added. The President emphasised that the two countries can do much more particularly in business, trade and investment.  He said the current bilateral trade was far below the potential. “The key to enhancing it lies with our Japanese friends,” the President continued.He said that located at the cross roads of Central and South Asia, Pakistan offers a huge market for its products and services. He said, “our Japanese friends have a unique opportunity to benefit from these advantages using their expertise, technology and investment.”The President noted that Pakistan has been successful in the US and the European markets. “We have established a firm base for our products in these regions,” the President said. However, “our success in the Japanese market needs your support.” The President said Japanese goods enjoy consumer’s confidence all over the world as well as in Pakistan. Despite a strong Yen and high prices, consumers prefer Japanese products in Pakistan. He said Japanese manufacturers are producing goods at a high cost in Japan for Pakistan and the neighbouring markets.  Japanese investors, the President said, can take advantage of low cost production, abundant raw material and cheap labour available in Pakistan. He said by virtue of its unique geographical location, Pakistan can serve as hub for Japanese production houses. “Our location is such that we can serve a market of over three billion in our neighbourhood,” the President emphasised.He said Pakistan’s investment policies have been consistent and investor friendly. The President also recounted various incentives available to the investors including freedom to invest without any restrictions, complete ownership of the businesses, equal treatment to local and foreign investors, free repatriation of profits and capitals, and generous tax and customs incentives for bringing raw materials, plant and machinery into Pakistan.The President said despite the challenges over the past decades, Pakistan’s economy has shown great resilience. He said Pakistan has maintained a positive rate of growth despite terrorism and natural disasters.  Currently, the economy is showing signs of modest recovery, he said. GDP growth for 2011-12 has been at 3.7% and the agriculture sector recorded a growth of 3.1 percent against 2.4 percent last year. He said Large Scale Manufacturing growth was 1.1 percent during 2011-12 as against 1.0 percent last year. Overall, the commodity producing sectors and especially the Agriculture sector have performed better, the President added. He said the growth of services sector has been at four percent.The President said he has been stressing that the best way to fight extremism is to generate economic activity in the region. Poverty and economic deprivation breeds extremism, he said adding economic security is the most effective weapon to fight extremism and militancy.The President said historically, regions which have faced turmoil have turned into land of economic opportunities once the security threats have been overcome.  “Vietnam, Cambodia and Sri Lanka are examples of this historical reality,” he added. The President said, as “we draw close to end of the war on terror in this region, I foresee a similar transformation of this region into a vibrant economic zone.”He said, “for peace in the region we have been working with India to improve our relations. Recent developments in trade relations are a turning point for stability in the region.”