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Pakistan, Jordan set FTA talks guidelines

Daily Times. Pakistan

Pakistan, Jordan set FTA talks guidelines

27 June 2006

By Sajid Chaudhry

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Jordan set to initiate the process of negotiations for concluding Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Protection and Promotion of Investment between the two countries along with cooperation in agriculture, science and technology and other areas during 8th Session of Pak-Jordan Joint Ministerial Commission.

Commerce Minister Humayun Akhter Khan and Jordanian Planning Minister Ms. Suhair Al-Ali Co- Chair of the Pak-Jordan JMC inaugurated the session here on Monday.

Both sides have agreed to start the process of negotiations for concluding FTA between the two countries during a technical talks session.

The Jordanian side handed over a draft of FTA to the Pakistan side who will give a response after examining the following, an official told Daily Times.

The agenda on Pak-Jordan JMC was also agreed at the end of inaugural session that includes technical talks on bilateral trade, MOUs for cooperation in the fields of agriculture, technical education, industrial, promotion and protection of investment, petroleum and natural resources, public works, civil aviation, science and technology, culture and media and matters relating to the Pakistanis living in Jordan.

In his inaugural address, Mr Khan proposed initiation of dialogue on Free Trade Agreement with Jordan. The Minister made this proposal while the Minister for Planning and International cooperation of Jordan Ms. Suhair Al-Ali called on him in his office Monday. In response to his proposal, Ms. Suhair assured the Commerce Minister that her government would be happy to start the negotiations as soon as possible. She also invited the Commerce Minister to lead a delegation from Pakistan to complete the Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

The Commerce Minister suggested that initial dialogue may be started by the technical teams of the two countries and when they reach the final stage of the agreement, he would like to come to Jordan for signing of this bilateral FTA.

Mr. Khan said that a bilateral FTA would provide an opportunity for vertical integration of Pakistani and Jordanian textile sectors with particular reference to Jordanian textile and apparel export to USA under Jordan-USA FTA and Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs).

The views on setting up of a warehouses at a suitable location in Jordan also came under discussion to cover Iraqi and Palestinian markets. The Jordanian Minister briefed the Commerce Minister on the economic and trade regimes of her country with particular reference to the reforms carried out by the Jordanian government during the last few years. The balance of trade between Pakistan and Jordan is in favour of Jordan.

During 2004-05 the total trade volume between Jordan and Pakistan remained at $53.837 million in which Pakistan’s exports stood at $21.013 whereas imports were registered at $32.806 million, thus registering a trade deficit to the tune of $11.793 million.

The Jordanian Minister for Planning Ms. Suhair Al-Ali Co-Chair of the JMC proposed 8 agreements and MOUs for consideration in the technical talks session and said that these relates to cooperation in important fields of both economies, trade and investment, transport and civil aviation, agriculture, stock markets.

She said that the conclusion of talks in the said areas would enable both the countries to their existing relations into more strengthened relations in future.

She said that the Jordanian government is in a process of reforms and wants to attract foreign direct investment to tackle the two major challenges of poverty and un-employment in the country.

She said that the environment is conducive for investment and the privatization program also provides batter investment opportunities to foreign investors.

She invited Pakistani investors to look into the opportunities available in energy and power sector of Jordan.