US sets conditions for normal trade ties
ISLAMABAD (March 04 2005): The United States has conveyed to Pakistan that trade relations could not be normalised prior to crackdown on the violators of Intellectual Property Rights and withdrawal of case against a US-based company, Slemens-Westinghouse. "The US officials underlined the need to improve Intellectual Property Environment (IPE) in Pakistan as per government’s commitment which is imperative for the US government. Its economic importance is attached with the great influence and access that the IP lobby enjoyed.
The US officials also expressed displeasure at the continued litigation that Slemens-Westinghouse faced in Pakistani court," says an official statement issued by the commerce ministry here on Thursday at the end of a two-day US visit of Secretary Commerce Tasneem Noorani.
Noorani, who met officials in Washington to discuss ways to move forward the ongoing dialogue between the two countries for deepening bilateral trade relations as the follow-up to last year’s trade and investment consultations and to a recent proposal by President Musharraf to his US counterpart for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries, faced tough time during the meetings for not honouring the government’s commitment regarding the IPRs.
The US officials were of the view that the violations of Intellectual Property Rights by the Pakistani firms has left negative impact on the US economy and if such practice continues, Pakistan should not expect trade promotion with the US, one commerce ministry official told Business Recorder.
According to the official statement, the topic of deepening trade relations between Pakistan and the US has assumed center stage because of the important role of trade in economic development, poverty alleviation and reduction of extremism in developing countries.
The commerce secretary made a convincing case to the US counterparts in the office of the trade representative, the State Department and the Commerce Department about the importance of exports in Pakistan’s national and economic security.
While in United States Trade Representative (USTR) Office, he met Ambassador Ashley Wills, Assistant US Trade Representative at the State Department, held meeting with Anthony Wayne, Assistant Secretary and also met senior officials of the Commerce Department, the statement maintained.
Noorani, the statement further added informed the US officials that Pakistan’s exports were badly affected by US policies, which allow preferential treatment to a large number of economies, but not to Pakistan. Its effects were felt especially by Pakistan because of the high rates of tariff that the US has imposed on textiles and apparels, the mainstay of Pakistan’s exports.
Noorani called for immediate action by the US government, as textile trade had become extremely price sensitive after removal of quotas and the US government’s high tariffs hurt Pakistan’s interests.
The statement quoted the sources as saying that the officials of both governments explored a number of options to strengthen trade relations, especially to provide a level playing field to Pakistan and increase investment. Arrangements that the US government has in place for other countries were also discussed.
The officials will meet again in April or May this year to finalise such arrangements for Pakistan under the trade and investment consultations.
The officials also pointed out the two governments were currently negotiating the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). This is a significant development, which in essence marks the beginning of FTA negotiations.
The US officials on their part indicated a need for Pakistan to develop positive momentum in trade relations with the US. In particular, they referred to the need to improve the Intellectual Property Environment (IPE) in Pakistan.
The commerce secretary also met with representatives of the US private sector and think tank at the Institute of International Economics exchanging ideas to work together for projecting Pakistan’s economic objectives in the US and to collaborate on studies pertaining to Pakistan’s trade interests.
In his meeting with private sector, Noorani explained Pakistan’s improved international competitiveness. He invited the private sector to visit Pakistan and familiarise themselves with business opportunities existing there.
Importers of textile present in the meeting acknowledged the improvement in quality and the investments made by Pakistani private sector.