Pakistan and Turkey took a step forward for future negotiations on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries by signing an FTA Frame Work Agreement on Tuesday.
Commerce Minister of Pakistan Khurram Dastgir and Economics Minister of Turkey Mustafa Elitaº inked the framework agreement which stipulates the broad outline and areas along which the talks on FTA will proceed.
The framework agreement states that the two sides would hold negotiations in fields such as trade in goods, trade in services, intellectual property rights, competition policies and dispute settlement mechanism.
In his meeting with Elitaº, Dastgir said, “We are living in an era of commercial diplomacy where trade is the foremost factor in shaping inter-state relations.”
He added that international trade was becoming an increasingly important factor in creating jobs, enhancing competitiveness and efficiency of the domestic industry and strengthening development efforts.
Dastgir was of the view that traditional barriers to trade including tariffs and quantitative restrictions are being dismantled with a view to promote cross-border trade.
The Turkish minister emphasised the importance of recent investments which Turkey has made in Pakistan and said the next logical step to further the economic cooperation between the two countries is wider and deeper trade concessions.
Elitaº said that Muslim countries should focus on establishing mutually and internationally recognisable standards in Halal food so that their share may be enhanced. He added that Turkish investment in the fields of renewable energy, housing, transport, sanitation and infrastructure would be enhanced in the near future.
The framework agreement is a major milestone towards the FTA but does not determine the extent of market access both countries will offer in later stages of negotiations.
The list of final concessions from Pakistan for the FTA will be prepared after further consultations with stakeholders in all sectors of the economy.
With a view to enhance cooperation, the two ministers launched the Pakistan chapter of All Industrialist and Businessmen Association, a Turkish state organisation which provides support to small and medium enterprises. This organisation will provide developmental and technical support to the emerging entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2016.