Pakistan, US reaffirm to expand bilateral trade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and United States (US) Thursday reaffirmed commitment to expand bilateral trade and business links between the two countries.

The reaffirmation was made during the meeting of the Working Group on Economy and Finance that met in Washing DC, according to press statement issued by Ministry of Finance here Thursday, adding the working group is part of the Pakistan-US Strategic Dialogue framework process.

Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar was leading the Pakistan delegation, while the US side was led by Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, Catherine Ann Novelli.

The group members welcomed the upcoming United States-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council meeting scheduled in May 2014 in Washington, D.C.

The working group discussions focused on how the two sides could best work together to deepen economic cooperation with a view to realizing the vision outlined by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and President Barack Obama in their Joint Statement of 23 October 2013.

Both sides agreed to continue working together in the future on all energy related projects.

Reaffirming the shared interests in further promoting educational and research opportunities for Pakistani students, scholars, and researchers in the US institutions, the two sides agreed to consider establishing a Working Group or sub group on Science, Technology and Education under the framework of Strategic Dialogue process.

This productive exchange on the entire gamut of economic cooperation builds on the Ministerial Meeting of the Strategic Dialogue held in Washington DC in January 2014.

On the occasion, Federal Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar updated the US delegation on the current state of Pakistan’s economy and its ongoing economic reforms.

He stated that Prime Minister Sharif’s government was committed to making Pakistan a regional hub of trade and economic activities.

The Finance Minister also underscored the importance of US participation in various energy related projects such as Dasu and Diamer Basha hydral projects.

Highlighting the importance of intensifying efforts to facilitate regional connectivity, Finance Minister Dar briefed the US side on the steps taken by the government to improve regional connectivity, especially in trade and energy sectors, including the Central Asia-South Asia electricity transmission project (CASA-1000), Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India (TAPI) pipeline project and Non-discriminatory Market Access (NDMA) to India.

The US side reiterated its commitment to supporting private sector-led growth in Pakistan and welcomed the proposal to regularly convene a Joint Business and Investment Forum, involving the private sector.

It praised the structural reforms undertaken by the Finance Minister to implement the Prime Minister’s agenda for economic growth and lauded the steps take by the Pakistan government to reduce the fiscal deficit, stabilizing the currency and improving the investment environment.

Pakistan’s entry into the international bond market, according to the US delegation, was a welcome sign which demonstrated the confidence of the international community on the upward trajectory of Pakistan’s economy.

Source: APP