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Greater access for Pak products to US markets

Daily Times, Pakistan

Greater access for Pak products to US markets

Staff Report

5 July 2007

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has called for an early conclusion of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to provide greater market access for Pakistani products into US markets.

Pakistan has also called for early adoption of legislation on the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) by the US Congress, as the zones will help generate considerable economic benefits in tribal areas.

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz conveyed this to a six member bipartisan US Congressional delegation led by Congresswoman Susan A Davis, which called on him at the PM’s House on Wednesday. Other members of the delegation included Bill Shuster, Ms Geoff Davis, Ms Kirsten Gillibrand and Michele Bachmann, representing both the Republican and Democrat parties.

The prime minister appreciated the growing relationship between the two countries based on shared interests and emphasised the need to further expand bilateral ties in all spheres. The PM emphasised in particular the need for developing greater economic and commercial relations with an early conclusion of BIT and FTA to provide greater market access for Pakistani products. Trade-not aid, he said, is Pakistan’s preferred option.

Discussing regional and international issues, the PM said, Pakistan’s geo-strategic location helps to promote regional cooperation and it has become an anchor for regional peace and stability.

On Afghanistan, the he said a peaceful and stable Afghanistan is in the best interest of Pakistan and the world, and highlighted the efforts made by Pakistan to help the Afghans. He also emphasised the need to eradicate the drugs problem and the early return of the Afghan refugees. The PM stated that the causes and solution of the Afghan problem lie in Afghanistan. The world, the PM, said needs to win the hearts and minds of people of Afghanistan and a Marshal Plan type assistance programme is needed to provide hope for a better future to the Afghan people.

Talking on Pak-India relations, the PM stressed the need for resolution of the core dispute of Kashmir in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir. He said this will bring sustainable peace in the region and the destiny of more than one billion people of South Asia will change.

He also emphasised the need for promoting interfaith harmony. He said Islam is a religion of peace and opposes extremism. Pakistan is committed to promoting harmony and working with friendly countries to build a peaceful and progressive environment in the region and the world, he added.

While discussing the domestic situation, the PM said Pakistan is an evolving democracy and democratic traditions are taking roots in the country.

Talking of the reform agenda of the government the PM said good governance and transparency are the hallmarks of the government. Consistency and continuity of policies have provided strength and credibility to our policies and added that the record high amount of Foreign Direct Investment, last year is a manifestation of confidence of investors in Pakistan’s economic policies.

Ms Susan A Davis and other delegation members said Pakistan is a vital ally for the US and they are keen to further strengthen this relationship. Ms Davis and her colleagues assured the PM of continued US assistance and support to Pakistan in all fields. Appreciating the government’s reform policies, the delegation members praised the achievements of sustained high growth rate and development in Pakistan, which brought about a qualitative change in the country.