Pakistan-US trade talks focus BIT, ROZs

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GMT - 3 Hours Pakistan-US trade talks focus BIT, ROZs

Post by yaad on Wed Sep 21, 2011 9:26 pm

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ISLAMABAD: Ffth edition of the Pakistan-US Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting concluded in Islamabad to hash out Reconstruction Opportunities Zones Bill (ROZ) and Bilateral Trade Agreement (BIT).

Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood is representing Pakistan while Assistant US Trade Representative Michael Delaney is heading the US delegation. Sources in Commerce Ministry said that, during the talks, Reconstruction Opportunities Zones Bill (ROZ) took the center-stage with an emphasis on boosting the trade between two countries.

In his address Secretary Commerce, Zafar Mahmood hoped that ROZ programme would be implemented in near future, as the process is already much delayed. He further said that we were encouraged to know that the US is now prepared to re-engage in negotiations on BIT, as the US draft text for the treaty was going through a process of revision. It is our hope that this meeting will set the course for future negotiations and early finalization of the treaty, he added.

“We are grateful to the US for support in arguing for the grant of a waiver by World Trade Organisation (WTO) to implement unilateral trade concession for Pakistan announced by the European Union. Obviously, it is still work in progress and we hope that the US will continue to use it influence in the ongoing process until the waiver is granted and the track is established”, said Zafar Mahmood.

He informed the participants of the meeting that United States continues to be our largest trading partner. Our bilateral trade has doubled over the last ten year to $5.30 billion.

Pakistan’s exports to US have jumped by 17 per cent to reach $3.175 billion till 30th April 2011 as compared to last year’s corresponding period. It is hoped that Pakistan’s total exports to USA would hit $4.2 billion during the last financial year.

On the other hand, during the talks, Delaney made it clear to Pakistan that that the draft legislation for establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in the economically deprived areas on both sides of Pakistan-Afghanistan border was unlikely to come up for approval of the US Congress this year.

“We don’t want to give you any hope about the ROZs this year. This is not likely to come up for a decision in 2011 because it is way back in its turns”, Delaney said.

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