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Pakistan wants free trade agreement with US

Hindustan Times, India

Pakistan wants Free Trade Agreement with US

Press Trust of India, Washington

30 November 2005

Pakistan is pressing for a bigger reward for its alliance with the United States in the war on terror, with the country’s Commerce Minister calling for a Free Trade Agreement that would open up the American market to Pakistani goods.

After a meeting with US Trade Representative Rob Portman, Pakistan’s Minister of Commerce Humayun Akhtar Khan said President Pervez Musharraf was of the view that a Free Trade Agreement "will go the distance in not only combating poverty but also reducing extremism".

Khan said Musharraf "feels the strong political ties between Pakistan and the United States should also include economic ties".

"He (Gen Musharraf) feels that in order to remove poverty which is essential for curbing extremism in that part of the world, Pakistan needs market access and the United States being one of the largest trading partners should give that access to Pakistan," Khan said.

The Pakistani minister also dismissed the notion that the US textile industry will oppose a Free Trade Agreement with his country given that much of Islamabad’s exports to the United States is in this category.

"The entire trade and economic relationship between the United States and Pakistan should not depend on the issue of textiles" Khan said.