Daily Times (Pakistan), April 14, 2006
Pakistan, US agree to conclude BIT soon
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and United States on Thursday agreed to conclude Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as early as possible. Pakistan has urged the AUSTR to convene the TIFA council meeting as soon as possible with highest-level participation from the US to boost trade relations between the two countries.
Assistant United States Trade Representative Douglas Alan Hartwick called on Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan Thursday and discussed with him trade relations between the two countries. Issues relating to Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) and Trade and Investment Framework Agreement(TIFA) were discussed at length.
The minister urged the AUSTR to convene the TIFA council meeting as soon as possible with highest level participation from the US to boost trade relations between the two countries. The last TIFA meeting was held in September, 2004 in Washington DC. It is now Islamabad’s turn to hold the meeting.
Both the sides were sanguine about the early signing of the treaty, which would lead to FTA between the two countries. The minister stated that Pakistan wanted to enter into an FTA with US.
He was of the opinion that market access for Pakistani products in the US market was vital as it would alleviate poverty, which is the root-cause of extremist tendencies in his country.
Both the sides discussed Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) - an initiative announced by the US president during his recent visit to Pakistan.
Under this arrangement goods manufactured in ROZs will enter USA without duty when they meet agreed rules of origin requirement. The minister stressed the need to expedite finalization of the modalities for ROZs.
Pakistan’s trade with USA has progressed over the last few years. Pakistan’s exports to US increased by 13.2% in the year 2005 compared to 2004. In our major export sectors of textiles and apparels, exports grew by 14%.
In the current year, exports from Pakistan have shown promise as seen by the statistics available so far for January 2006. Pakistan’s exports of textiles and apparels have increased by 46% in January 2006 compared to January 2005.