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Pakistan, Mauritius to activate FTA in 18 months

The News-International

Pakistan, Mauritius to activate FTA in 18 months

By our correspondent

5 April 2008

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Mauritius on Friday agreed to operationalise a free trade agreement between the two countries within 18 months to boost South-South trade.

Addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Commerce after the conclusion of a three-day 7th Joint Working Group (JWG) meeting, Anand Priyay Neewoor, the head of Mauritius delegation, said the issue of sensitive products would be settled once the FTA became operational between the two countries.

Anand said Pakistani business community could benefit from high per capita income of Mauritius by exporting goods and services. Also Pakistani traders could use Mauritius as a hub for neighbouring African countries having a combined population of more than 500 million, he added.

The JWG underlined that visa facilities for the business community and direct air links were crucial for the expansion of bilateral trade and investment, said an official statement. The JWG deliberated on the framework and modalities for bilateral cooperation in the fields of science and technology, fisheries and software development.

Pakistan government is considering financing an Urdu House project in Mauritius, which is estimated to cost Rs199 million. Project details have been prepared by the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (NESPAK).

The JWG noted that a Pakistani consortium had expressed its willingness to construct Jinnah Tower in Plaine Verte, Mauritius.

The meeting also reviewed progress on the implementation of the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA), which came into force on November 30, 2007. Both sides expressed satisfaction that the PTA had started generating positive synergy among businesspeople of the two countries.

They agreed to further broaden the benefits of PTA by organising trade shows and market surveys. Both sides also agreed to fully highlight the PTA during Expo 2008 scheduled to take place in October in Karachi. The JWG reiterated the need for the PTA to culminate in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) whereby mostly all products would be traded duty-free.

The FTA will go beyond trade in goods and encompass trade in services and trade-related investment.