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FTA talks with Nigeria on the cards

Dawn, Pakistan

FTA talks with Nigeria on the cards

The Newspaper’s Staff Reporter

18 December 2014

ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce is working on a proposal for early initiation of negotiations with Nigeria on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to boost bilateral trade.

An official of the ministry said the federal cabinet has already accorded approval in November 2014 for launching the talks.

It is also proposed to open a trade commission office in Lagos, where a trade officer will be posted to facilitate exports and imports between the two countries.

During the visit of President Mamnoon Husain to Nigeria in June 2014, both sides had agreed that Nigeria will play its role in facilitating access of Pakistani goods to the 15 countries which are members of Economic Comm-unity of West African States that constitute (ECOWAS).

The Nigerian side assured to help Pakistan in getting access to the market of the Western African States —Benin; Burkina Faso; Cabo Verde; Cote D’ivoire; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; and Togolese.

Presently the value of bilateral trade between the two countries is less than $100 million. The proposed treaty aims to increase bilateral trade to $1 billion within the next five years.

Both sides identified areas of cooperation and joint ventures between Pakistan and Nigeria are in fertiliser production, pharma, cotton fabrics, woven fabric of synthetic fibre, tractors, textile, leather industry, education, gas and oil, electro-medical apparatus and agricultural research.

According to the official, international presence of Pakistani firms in Africa is very low as compared to its competitors.

The first step taken includes providing subsidy on opening of retail sale outlets in three regions —Africa, Asia and Australia. The opening of sale outlets is the best tool for introducing and exporting high quality and branded exports of Pakistan, he said.

The government provides subsidy on these outlets/warehouses up to 75 per cent, 50pc and 25pc per annum of the rental cost in the first, second and third year, respectively.