Eighth council meeting of TIFA: Schedule under consideration

January 15, 2015 WASIM IQBAL0 CommentsE-mailPrintPDF
The schedule for US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement’s (TIFA) eighth council meeting is under discussion, an official told Business Recorder. Sources in Board of Investment (BOI) stated that at the TIFA Council meeting US and Pakistan governments will discuss measures to enhance market access opportunities.

On the sidelines of the TIFA Council meeting, private sector representatives from the US and Pakistan will also meet to discuss trade and investment opportunities in the textiles and apparel sector, as well as in information and communications technologies sector. The meeting of TIFA Council is scheduled for 2015 and both sides are discussing the final dates for the meeting, sources maintained.

The overarching objective of the meeting is to improve the pace of implementation of joint action plan under the TIFA to boost the quantum of trade, sources said. Former Finance Minister Saleem Mandviwalla told Business Recorder that Pakistan would not be eligible for access to US markets until the TIFA or the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is signed. Mandviwalla said that bilateral agreements between the two countries would promote investor confidence.

In the absence of any bilateral agreement with the US, Pakistan cannot strike a liquefied natural gas (LNG) import deal or any other major energy deal with the US, limiting Pakistan’s options on import of fuel to meet its energy needs, sources said. A Joint Action Plan was signed on 18 May, 2014 by Pakistan and the US in Washington under the TIFA to enhance trade and investment flows over the next five years. The following areas were identified for co-operative efforts in the plan: (a) diversifying agricultural production; (b) enhancing intellectual property protection; (c) implementing the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement; (d) engaging on Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement; (e) increasing trade in services; (f) outreach to US State and Local Governments; (g) promoting entrepreneurship; and (h) increasing dialogue between the respective private sectors. The US offered to establish Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in militancy-hit tribal areas close to the border with Afghanistan as a unilateral concession but the Congress has yet to ratify it despite a lapse of several years.

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