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Pak-US study group to accelerate talks on ROZ

The News | Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pak-US study group to accelerate talks on ROZ

By By Aftab Maken

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the US have agreed to set up a joint study group for accelerating bilateral negotiations on Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement and Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), said Commerce Secretary Suleman Ghani on Tuesday.

Both sides also discussed trade enhancement by giving more market access for Pakistani products to the US and finally enter into a free trade agreement, Ghani, who has just returned from the US after talks on Trade and Investment Facilitation Agreement (TIFA), told The News in an exclusive talk.

However, the commerce secretary gave no specific timeframe for setting up ROZs in the tribal areas of Pakistan. Former US President George Bush, in his trip to Pakistan in 2006, had announced a plan to establish the zones.

Ghani said ROZs would be set up in the whole NWFP province, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and some 100km area along the Pak-Afghan border.

“Market access to the US and exports through ROZs will definitely increase overall exports,” Ghani said. Obama administration has tabled ROZ bill in the US congress for setting up industrial estates in Pakistan and products exported to the US from these zones would be duty-free.

To a question about more facilitation from the US pertaining to ROZs, the commerce secretary said: “We are expecting some foreign direct investment (FDI) from the Americans in these industrial zones.”

However, the ministry of commerce is also planning to facilitate interested investors for setting up industries for the betterment of locals, he added.

About leakage in transshipments, Ghani said that the ministry was already working with the concerned departments particularly customs and other clearing agencies to plug possible leakages.

 source: The News