Pakistan and the United States are to discuss defence equipment deal next week, according to which Washington will consider procurement of defence equipment for its forces in Afghanistan from Pakistani companies through Department of Defence (DoD).
This would be the key proposal to be discussed during the 8th Pakistan-US Trade & Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting to be held in Islamabad on October 18, 2016. Both sides would also discuss different ways and means to ease access of Pakistani exports to the US.
The US delegation will be led by Ambassador Michael Froman, United States Trade Representative (USTR). Other members of the delegation would be Ambassador David Hale, Matthew Vogel, Deputy USTR and Michael Delaney, AUSTR, Zeba Reyazuddin, Director South & Central Asia, USTR among others.
Pakistani team would be led by Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, Federal Minister for Commerce and include Secretary Commerce, Azmat Ali Ranjha, Additional Secretary Asad Hayauddin and Pakistan’s Trade Minister to Washington Ali Tahir. Both sides will discuss implementation of one year work plan (2016-17) of five year augmented joint action plan.
According to sources, tax policy, Intellectual Property (US will provide assessment), pharmaceutical pricing policy, dispute resolution, cyber crimes law, Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs), beef and beef products, mango irradiation, pipe anti-dumping countervailing duties case, preferential access programs – GSP and others and RMG-US Pakistan co-operation will also be discussed in the meeting.
Pakistan, sources said, will urge the US delegation to procure defence equipment in Afghanistan from Pakistani companies. The DoD procures defence equipment amounting to $400-500 billion per annum. The sources said Pakistani team will take the US delegation on board with regard to trade facilitation consultation with Malaysia.
Update on Pakistan’s TISA offer, Free Trade Agreement (FTA), location of next Business Opportunities Conference, impact of travel advisories/warnings on trade, reverse trade delegation focused on agriculture and technology and US trade shows scheduled for 2016-17 will also come under discussion.
The TIFA was signed by Pakistan and USA in 2003. The TIFA Council is the apex body tasked with developing trade and investment relations between Pakistan and the United States, and resolving outstanding issues between the two countries.
The Pakistani side will apprise the visiting delegation about the improved economic and security situation in the country, and the pressing need for the US government to revisit its travel advisories for US businessmen, as the most critical step towards improving bilateral trade and investment.
“The trade volume between the two countries has not been growing in accordance with its potential. It is now time to review these advisories to provide businesses from both sides to connect freely and also put an end to discrimination against Pakistan, which puts Pakistan at a competitive disadvantage for exports to the US, vis-à-vis other countries in the region and the rest of the world,” said an official.
The Commerce Minister would emphasise further enhancement of trade relations between the two countries. The US administration would also be requested to facilitate the export of Pakistani products to the American market especially textile and agriculture. During the meeting, areas of mutual interest will be discussed and a long-term joint plan would be developed to give the much-needed boost to trade and investment between the two countries.
The meeting will also discuss issues such as trade facilitation, Intellectual Property Rights protection & enforcement, business outreach programs and building entrepreneurship and creating linkages of Pakistani exporters with the US market.