Daily Times, Pakistan
Talks on Pak-US BIT likely to continue in 2007: US report
By Sajid Chaudhry
4 March 2007
ISLAMABAD: The United States has said that a small but significant number of differences are persisting on issues of considerable importance to the US in the proposed Pak-US Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), however, this indicates that discussion on the treaty are expected to continue in 2007.
The United States has also expressed its determination that in 2007, the US administration would work closely with the Congress and private sector stakeholders to implement important initiative of creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zone’s in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s border regions.
This has been stated in the US president’s 2006 annual report on the trade agreements program and the President’s 2007 trade policy agenda, available on USTR site, which has been submitted to the US Congress on March 1, 2007 to meet the country’s legal requirements and in accordance with Uruguay Round Agreements Act.
The chapter on Pakistan contained in US report says that both US-Pakistan trade and US investment grew in 2006. Work continues with government of Pakistan to enhance and expand the bilateral trade relationship, including by helping Pakistan to create a climate conducive to increased foreign investment. In 2006, bilateral efforts included two ministerial level meetings; United States Trade Representative (USTR) Susan Schwab met with Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan in August 2006, and again in September 2006 in Cairns, Australia.
In October, Assistant United States Trade Representative (AUSTR) Douglas A. Hartwick co-chaired the second meeting of the US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council with Pakistan’s Secretary Commerce Syed Asif Shah. The TIFA Council meeting, which took place in Islamabad focused on a number of issues and number of priorities in the bilateral economic relationship, including Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs), Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), textiles, workers rights, services, facilitation of Pakistan-Afghan Transit Trade and Agricultures.
In, March 2006, the US president announced his attention to request Congress to authorize the creation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Pakistan and Afghanistan’s border regions. USTR and the Department of State have led the effort develop this initiative, which intended to bring development and job creation to geographic areas that are among the most critical in the global war against terror. The creation of ROZ’s would encourage investment by granting duty free entry into United States for certain goods produced in designated territories. In support to this effort, USTR officials held consultation with the government of Pakistan and government of Afghanistan and visited both regions. In 2007, the US administration would work closely with Congress and private sector stakeholders to implement this important initiative.
The report further states that the government of Pakistan continued to take noticeable steps during 2006 to improve Copy Rights enforcement, especially with respect to optical disc piracy. Nevertheless, Pakistan does not provide adequate protection of al intellectual property. Book piracy, weak trademark enforcement, lack of data protection for proprietary pharmaceutical and agricultural chemical test data, and problem with Pakistan’s pharmaceutical patent protection remain serious barrier to trade and investment. However, Pakistan took significant steps to shut down optical disc production and export of pirated optical discs over the last two years, and it created the Intellectual Property Rights Organization (IPO), In April 2006, in recognition of the government of Pakistan’s effort’s USTR lowered Pakistan from Priority Watch List to the Watch List. USTR officials engaged the Pakistani Ministry of Health and IPO throughout 2006 to see that they met other commitments, particularly in areas of patent linkage and data protection.
In, 2006, USTR continued bilateral efforts to finalize Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), which would provide U.S. investors in Pakistan with significant legal protections. A small but significant number of differences have persisted on issues of considerable importance to the United States, however, revealed that discussion on the BIT are expected to continue in 2007.