Online International News Network | 20 April 2006
Pakistan-Bangladesh agree to conclude bilateral FTA by September, 2006
ISLAMABAD: A bilateral meeting between the Commerce Minister of Pakistan Humayun Akhtar Khan and his Bangladeshi counter part Air Vice Martial Altaf Hussain Chaudry was held at Dhaka today in pursuance of the decisions taken to restart the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations during the recent visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to Pakistan.
The bilateral FTA would be based on the principle of reciprocity and would go beyond the tariff concessions provided under the SAFTA agreement.
Both the Commerce Ministers agreed to put the bilateral initiatives on fast rack and to conclude the negotiations at the technical level by end July, 2006 and to complete the procedures and constitutional requirement by September, 2006 in order to operationalize the bilateral FTA. The technical team would be led by Mr. Shahid Bashir, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Mr. Elias Ahmed, Additional Secretary, to represent Pakistan and Bangladesh, respectively.
Moreover, the first meeting of the SAFTA Committee of Experts (COE) was held in Dhaka on 18-19 April, 2006. The seven member Pakistan delegation was led by Mr. Shahid Bashir, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce.
In accordance with the agenda of the two-day meeting, the delegates from member countries deliberated on issues related to the implementation of SAFTA agreement including technical aspects and modalities. A working group was formed which met on the sidelines of SAFTA COE meeting to work out Terms of Reference for the Sub-Group on Non Tariff Barriers.
The Pakistan delegation contributed significantly in the deliberations and preparation of the report of the first SAFTA COE meeting. The COE meeting finalized its report and recommendations for the forthcoming first meeting of the SAFTA Ministerial Council to be held in Dhaka on 20th April, 2006.
Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan will participate in the first SAFTA Ministerial Council Meeting on 20th April, 2006. Besides, the Commerce Minister will hold short bilateral meetings with the Indian Minister of Sate for Commerce, as well as with his counterparts from Nepal and Maldives in Dhaka on 20th April, 2006.