US, Pakistan work on clearing trade hurdles

Make progress on Bilateral Investment Treaty.

APP June 27, 2013
Pakistan’s exports under the GSP programme stand at $195 million, which is 5% of Pakistan’s total exports to the US. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Senior government officials and diplomats, who participated in the second US-Pakistan business opportunities conference in Dubai, have high hopes that there will be a positive outcome and the two sides will make quick progress on removing tariff barriers and other obstacles that hamper bilateral trade and investment.

Talking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of the conference in Dubai, they stressed that Pakistan was seeking tariff concessions and greater access to the US market in an effort to boost economic growth in coming years.

“This meeting is a sequel to the London conference held in October last year, which was a good start and we need to build on this and further the positive trade between the US and Pakistan,” Munir Qureshi, Secretary Ministry of Commerce, said.

The two sides made significant progress on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) at the conference.

Adviser to Prime Minister Javed Malik said progress on the treaty was encouraging and they would soon sign an agreement.

To a question, Malik termed the conference very successful, which laid the foundation for better understanding and future cooperation.

According to him, third US-Pakistan business opportunities conference will likely be held in Pakistan, however, no decision has been taken.

In an effort to reap high dividends of the preferential treatment, Pakistan urged the US to extend the period of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) scheme to more than a year as it was presently renewed on a yearly basis.

“We are very keen to see Pakistani textiles gain access to the US market on favourable terms or at least on similar terms as offered to least developed countries. This would have a negligible impact on US manufacturing, but will help Pakistan in regaining some of the lost market share,” Malik said.

Pakistan’s exports under the GSP programme stand at $195 million, which is 5% of Pakistan’s total exports to the US. “There is an immense potential to increase this manifold,” he said.

Responding to a question about investment in the energy sector, Malik said the government was considering setting up LPG terminals in the country. “We have discussed LPG terminals in detail at the conference and invited US, European and UAE investors to establish the terminals.”

Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2013.

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