WASHINGTON – Federal Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs Senator Ishaq Dar in his meeting with United States Trade Representative (USTR) Michael Froman, in Washington, recalled the successful Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) discussion held earlier in May 2014.
Dar said that TIFA is the key vehicle for promoting US investments in Pakistan. He said that the government of Pakistan looks forward to working with USTR on the implementation strategy for the Joint Action Plan. The minister said that the cardinal principle of the current government was to promote trade rather than aid and to that effect to hope to work with the US towards enhanced market access opportunities for Pakistan. He expressed his desire for an early renewal of US Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Programme. He thanked the USTR office and the US Department of Agriculture/ APHIS for extending additional facilities at Houston and Mississippi, thereby permitting entry of Pakistani mangoes and other agricultural products into the US market.
He appreciated the US interest in the early conclusion of BIT. He informed that the government of Pakistan is forming an inter-agency team to review the new BIT text with the US government and look forward to its early conclusion. The US looked forward to working with Pakistan towards next Business Opportunities Conference which will take place early 2015. Froman said that the USTR office would work with Pakistan in the Implementation strategy of the Joint Action plan. He proposed to organise a business week in Pakistan at the time of next Business Opportunities Conference encompassing aspects of the Joint Action Plan. Senator Dar also met British secretary of State for International Development Justine Greening.
The minister apprised Greening about the losses due to flash floods in Pakistan. He also briefed her about the operation in North Waziristan adding that the government gave a chance to dialogue till the very end but failed to get positive results which is why it had to go for the operation which was supported by the whole society. Dar said that the operation will incur a huge financial bill, especially for the rehabilitation stage costing the national exchequer close to $1.5-2 billion. The government at present is helping the affected in the form of food, other amenities and cash for their sustenance. He said that a UN sponsored Rehabilitation Need Assessment (RNA) will be conducted by October 30 to estimate the losses. Despite all odds, the finance minister noted that the government’s plan of economic revival is on track and all economic indicators are positive.
He hinted at the negative impact of uncalled for domestic turbulence impacting the government’s efforts for revival of the economy especially the delay in the launch of the Islamic Sukuk bonds which would have helped to build up targeted reserves of $15 billion. The minister invited Greening to visit Pakistan with a delegation of investors from UK which she accepted with delight. She appreciated the government’s handling of the protestors in Islamabad and continued progress on the economic front, despite all odds. She opined that the people of Pakistan are keeping faith in the government which is moving in the right direction despite disruptive politics.
She offered to join hands with the government of Pakistan to boost investor confidence. She said that the tax reforms undertaken by the government were very well received in the UK. She also appreciated the efficacy of the Income Support Fund, which targets the most vulnerable segment of the society. On regional connectivity the minister expressed his hope that he will be able to reach an agreement with the Afghan finance minister on the issue of transit fee regarding CASA 1000, when he meets him on the sidelines of IMF/World Bank meetings. Dar congratulated Greening on Scotland’s decision to stay in the UK in the Scottish independence referendum.
Originally published on www.dailytimes.com.pk