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Pak, US discuss FTA

Pak, US discuss FTA

22 June 2005

WASHINGTON, June 23 (Online): Commerce Secretary Tasneem Noorani held a detailed discussions at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington DC the other day along with their team of experienced negotiators to study details of a free trade agreement (FTA) with USA.
This meeting was held in pursuance to an earlier decision taken during the visit to Washington of Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan last April. The meeting provided an opportunity for both sides to examine the readiness for entering a free trade agreement with the hope of harmonizing differing positions.

Discussions also took place on provisions of market access and environment for facilitating movement of goods and services between the two countries. The objective of Commerce Secretary’s visit to Washington is to prepare for the visit of Prime Minister of Pakistan to USA in end July.Strengthened bilateral economic relations with USA are a priority for the Prime Minister.

The Commerce Secretary emphasized upon the US counterparts that a FTA with USA will help integrate Pakistan’s economy with a major economy and tie with Government’s objective for rapid economic growth. International trade and exports will generate economic activity and help alleviate poverty.

The meeting identified a limited number of areas where further harmonization of positions of the two countries is required. The Pakistan delegation proposed that subsequent meetings focus on these areas.

The Commerce Secretary also called on Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Earl Anthony Wayne. The main topic of discussion during this meeting was Pakistan’s proposal for trade incentives for economically depressed regions of the country.

Commerce Secretary Noorani reiterated the strong correlation that existed between extremism and poverty in the country and discussed GOP’s plans to address regional disparity in Pakistan. An important way is to create incentives for private sector investment in economically depressed regions through international trade opportunities.

Commerce Secretary Noorani also shared a proposal for joint Pak-USA effort for economic development of Afghanistan through Pak-Afghan Qualified Industrial Zones. Under Secretary Wayne appreciated the proposals from Pakistan.

The meeting reviewed the remarkable progress made by Pakistan on intellectual property rights. Sustained enforcement in Pakistan had almost eliminated piracy in the country. The meeting also noted recent establishment of PIPRO and shared the expectation that it will upgrade the legal environment for IP in the country.

The meeting discussed possible trade capacity assistance in the field of intellectual property rights. Secretary Noorani stated that two major irritants that had impeded progress in strengthening bilateral economic relations between Pakistan and USA had been removed and it was now time to focus on rapid deepening of bilateral relations. US Administration will respond to these proposals shortly and an announcement on the proposal is possible during the Prime Minister’s visit to USA.