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BIT of no use if FTA between Pakistan, US not signed

Daily Times, Pakistan

BIT of no use if FTA between Pakistan, US not signed


17 May 2012

KARACHI: The signing of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) will not bear fruit without signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and United States of America (USA).

We want Pakistanis living in USA to lobby for Pakistan, to get trade access to US markets, by encouraging US decision makers at the highest level to have a FTA, Mian Abrar Ahmad, President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said this while meeting with President Houston-Karachi Sister City Association (HKSCA), Muhammad Saeed Sheikh.

KCCI, HKSCA and the most prestigious social, economic and commerce body the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) also signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

KCCI high-level delegation met a number of business people in Houston, Austin and Clear Lake City besides visiting National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Johnson Space Centre.

Mian Abrar Ahmad said every country has their own issues and there are serious issues in Pakistan. But despite those issues, Pakistanis are moving forward resiliently and overcoming all the challenges.

There is a clear difference between perception and reality. The actuality is Pakistan is thriving well in these global difficult economic times and we definitely not need any aid from anybody including USA.

What we need is trade and in fact access to trade. Once given equal footing, you will see how Pakistan will excel even more positively in everything, he added.

The delegation met policy and law makers in Washington DC and stressed upon the US Congresspersons’ and decision makers at the State Department that in the next few months when the BIT will be signed it should be followed by signing of FTA.

KCCI has the aim in the next few years, we are going to increase the trade of Pakistan from $25 billion to over $200 billion per year and significantly increase it per year hereafter.

At present Pakistan is not allowed to use nuclear energy while France produces 80 percent through nuclear technology, many countries of the world utilise coal to produce energy, while Pakistan is discouraged to use her own second largest in the world reserves of coal to make energy and then Pakistan cannot get access to gas, since pipeline is not being allowed to come via Iran.

BIT followed by FTA with USA will do the necessary thing of revamping the relationships between USA and Pakistan, which are in as much of American interest as they are for Pakistan, he added.

Saeed Sheikh said signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by KCCI, HKSCA and the most prestigious social, economic and commerce body the Greater Houston Partnership (GHP) was historic.

This MoU will become the platform on which solid business and trade relations will be established between the two vital economies of the world, namely Houston and Karachi, Sheikh added.

“Better bilateral trade relations between Karachi and Houston are in fact in the national interest of USA, during these hard economic times”.

This trip of KCCI constitutes the fulfillment of one of the salient features of HKSCA Charter, that is to foster and establish trade relations between business entities of Houston and Karachi, added Sheikh.

State of Texas itself is the largest business partner of Pakistan and provides excellent opportunities in the fields of renewable and clean energies like wind energy and IT. The next delegation to the State of Texas and USA of KCCI would also include people from energy and IT sectors.

Gareth Morgans from the Office of Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, who is the founding co-Chair of Congressional Pakistani Caucus and Sam merchant from the Office of Congressman AL Green gave special certificates of recognition to KCCI for the positive role and efforts of KCCI in fostering commerce relations between USA and Pakistan.

Pakistan is the gateway to Iran and Turkey, secondly to the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) countries including Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh and third block being the Central Asian Countries.

These blocks are not just for Pakistan to enjoy but for all of our trusted partners.

If USA opens up and gives proper access to Pakistani businesses, in turn Pakistan not only provides her own market for American goods but also is the gateway that USA businesses can use to access so many lucrative markets.

There should be no discrimination between developed, developing, under developed and least developed countries as far as trade is concerned.

Field should be open for all. Despite energy crisis resulting in only eight hours of productive work as compared to 24 hours in many countries of the world, foreign imported terrorism into Pakistan, war on terror in Afghanistan, despite all these predicaments, Pakistanis have shown resilience and are competing well with China and India. staff report