Daily Times (Pakistan) | 9 August 2007
Bilateral trade talks FTA partnership sought from US govt
By Sajid Chaudhry
ISLAMABAD: During the ongoing round of bilateral trade talks at Washington, US Administration is being pressed to designate Pakistan as a potential Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partner to attract investment and promote trade relations between the two countries, a government official told Daily Times on Wednesday.
Pak-USA FTA is critical for Pakistan, as it would help to increase investment in Pakistan and exports to US.
This FTA would send a string signal to all the countries about US’s commitment to Pakistan’s economy and would also demonstrate that Pakistan plays by internationally accepted economic rules, the official added.
At the start of his two-day visit to Washington, Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan on Monday discussed advancing Pakistan-US trade and economic relations with senior US administration officials.
Mr Khan met with US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and US Deputy Secretary of State John Negro Ponte as the two countries discussed forging closer trade and economic links and to further consolidate their wide-ranging relationship.
In his meeting with Susan Schwab, the commerce minister discussed advancement in the areas of bilateral investment treaty negotiations, reconstruction opportunity zones, intellectual property and World Trade Organisation matters. Pakistan has also requested that US President may designate a team of CEOs for upgrading Pakistan’s industrial infrastructure. The CEOs can meet Pakistani counterparts and government officials to discuss regulatory environment and infrastructure constraints to generate interest among a large number of US companies in Pakistan’s economy and to promote Pakistan as an investment destination all over the US.
The official said Pakistan has also wished to designate year 2008 as the year for Economic Relations with US adding that during the year, Pakistan and US may launch a large number of activities for promoting private sector contacts and alliances.
According to the official, a US team who visited Pakistan to decide the locations of proposed Reconstruction Opportunities Zones (ROZs), has highlighted that all the stakeholders are of the view that tariff relief should not be the only feature of the ROZs initiative and other incentives should be included in proposed ROZs package.
As per findings of the US team government of Pakistan is requesting US authorities to adopt Egypt Qualified Industrial Zone (QIZ) model for final site selection so that establishment of ROZs can take place in Pakistan.
The advantages of Egypt model would include providing industrialists with maximum flexibility to determine the best location for a particular industry, allow cluster development and establishment of specific industrial parks, stimulate competition between public industrial estates and private industrial estates, also may stimulate joint ventures between the public sector industrial development authorities and private industry and provide an opportunity for private sector to negotiate additional incentives needed to locate a particular industry in ROZ eligible area.