FTA with US, India difficult at the moment: Dawood

PM adviser will meet British Airways’ delegation for finalising flight detail

Our Correspondent January 29, 2019

LAHORE: By offering on-arrival visa facility to 60 countries, the government wants to see if it can help the country promote tourism, said Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industry Abdul Razak Dawood.

“Through this decision, we will soon come to know of visits of foreigners from these countries and their interests in investing in Pakistan. It will also be helpful in encouraging our tourism sector,” said Dawood, while talking to the media after an inaugural ceremony of Pakistan’s mega leather show on Monday.

He said British Airways would soon be operating flights from Pakistan to the United Kingdom (UK).  “I will hold a meeting with a delegation of British Airways on Tuesday to finalise this arrangement. Initially, there will be three flights from Islamabad to UK in a week,” he added.

The PM adviser said that although Pakistan is helping the United States in restoring peace in

Afghanistan, a free trade agreement (FTA) with the latter is very difficult. “Pakistan is doing a great job in this regard, but when we talk about FTA with the US, it is very difficult, as it takes five to seven years,” he replied.

Mini-budget to decrease revenue by Rs7b, says Dawood

His remark came in response to a question about the US senator’s statement, expressing Pakistan may be offered FTA if it renders full support and cooperation over restoring peace and bringing Taliban on the dialogues’ table. “We would be very happy if they (the US) offer us FTA, but it takes a long time,” he remarked.

When asked whether the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government expected improvement in free trade relations with India through Wagha or other ways, the adviser said, “It depends on the improvement in political relations between Pakistan and India, so FTA with India is not easy at the moment.”

Commenting on the economy, he said the results of rupee devaluation could not emerge immediately, as it

will take some time. “It is not a company, it is the economy that takes time to improve,” he said, adding some announcements made in the mini-budget would be implemented with immediate effect from July this year. He said that though the current

account deficit still existed, it had slightly dropped, due to which our exports had slightly increased and imports had decreased. Dawood said the results of the government’s efforts to revive the economy would emerge in July, this year. “I honestly feel that we are getting better, since we are in the right direction,” he believed.

The government has decided that no policy decision related to commerce and trade would be taken without taking the business community into confidence, he said, adding that the government was changing the culture in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and relevant ministries, in order to create an enabling environment for the business community.

Earlier, Dawood inaugurated the exhibition, assuring the leather industry of rendering his full support. The show organised by the Pakistan Footwear Manufacturers Association (PMFA) and Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) brought exhibitors from Pakistan and other countries to showcase a wide range of leather products and manufacturing equipment.

“The show has attracted potential buyers and investors from China, India, Italy, Germany, Hong Kong, the US, Cyprus, the UAE, Spain and Japan,” said PTA Chief Agha Saddain.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2019.

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