Daily News, Lahore
Pakistan and Malaysia to sign protocol for PTA
Badawi arrives on 15th
By Khalid Mustafa
12 February 2005
ISLAMABAD : Pakistan and Malaysia will sign the protocol of a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) during Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s visit to Pakistan from February 15 to 18.
The two countries will formally sign the PTA after working out itemised list of the goods that would be traded under the agreement by both the sides within the span of six months.
A senior official said the Malaysian prime minister, who would be visiting Pakistan for the first time in past 15 years, would be accompanied by a large delegation of Malaysian tycoons.
“Pakistan is attaching high importance to this visit because Pakistan wants Malaysia’s support for its entry into the ASEAN block.
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz had worked in Malaysia for three years while he was serving Citibank and thus enjoyed personal ties with some of the top business companies in Malaysia whose heads were coming to Pakistan, the official said.
The official said the Malaysian companies had expressed their desire to invest in the information technology, housing and power sectors of Pakistan. Mr Bashir Jan Mohammad, president of the Pak-Malaysia Joint Business Council will also accompany Mr Badawi.
The official said Pakistan would seek relaxation in the Malaysian tariff regime for Pakistani goods that was currently very restrictive, entailing low turnout of the Pakistani export to Malaysia.
He said Pakistan annually imported palm oil worth $800 million from Malaysia that heavily tilts balance of trade in favour of Malaysia. Pakistan, on the other hand, exports a few goods in the defence sector.
The official said Malaysia was a potential market for Pakistani rice, fruit and vegetables. Pakistan does export these to Malaysia, but the higher tariffs keep their volume low. Malaysia will also seek the reduction of duty on palm oil from Pakistan. The duty currently stands around Rs 8,000 to 9,000 per tonne, he said.
The official said Malaysia would also help assist the government in the redesigning of Islamabad. Taira Jaye, a Malaysian Company which has established a new capital in Malaysia, will redesign Islamabad. The Malaysian prime minister will also launch long distance international and local loop telecommunication services for DANCOM in Islamabad. Malaysian businessmen will meet representatives of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) and explore areas for investment.