WASHINGTON - The United States and Pakistan on Tuesday announced agreement on a Joint Action Plan to expand bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on women’s economic empowerment.
The accord came as Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan and US Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman led the two sides at a meeting of the US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council.
“Trade with Pakistan supports good-paying jobs in the United States and is a key part of our effort to unlock opportunity for American works, businesses, farmers, and ranchers,“ the US Trade Representative said, welcoming the Pakistani delegation.
Federal Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir Khan hailed the Joint Action Plan, stating with it the two countries are“turning a new leaf” in their trade and economic relations.
He voiced a strong hope that as two democracies Pakistan and the United States would be able to bolster the trade ties to lay a “more permanent foundation of a more positive” relationship between the two longtime friends.
“The challenge in democratic Pakistan is that democracy should be seen as delivering a better standard of life and creating more jobs,” he noted and looked forward to the US support in spurring trade, investment and economic growth in his country.
Khurram Dastgir Khan particularly noted that since the inception of the democratic government in Islamabad last year, the sentiment towards the US has improved considerably by 13 per cent in the country and added suspension in drone strikes is also helping to create a positive atmosphere.
He said the government in Islamabad, led by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is endeavouring to revive the national economy and investment and is fully focused on removing obstacles including extremism and energy shortages in the way of high and sustained economic growth.
He said that since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s White House talks with President Barack Obama in October 2013, the two countries have started moving forward the relationship on an upward trajectory, and hoped for continued progress in the bilateral relationship.
In his remarks, Ambassador Froman said that “the announcement of agreement on a Joint Action Plan to improve bilateral trade and investment as well as the signing of the MOU on women’s economic empowerment underscores the strong and growing relationship between the United States and Pakistan on trade and investment issues and signifies monumental progress for Pakistani women.”
Among the goals and areas of cooperation included in the Joint Action Plan are: diversifying agricultural production; promoting intellectual property protection; implementing the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement; seeking Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement; conducting outreach to US state and local governments; enhancing entrepreneurship; and increasing dialogue between the US and Pakistani private sectors.
Earlier, Ambassador Froman and Minister for Commerce discussed the Joint Action Plan to expand bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years.
President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif instructed senior officials to develop the Joint Action Plan after their meeting in October 2013.
The office of US Trade Representative said that the “historic” Memorandum of Understanding on Joint Efforts to Enable the Economic Empowerment of Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship will allow both governments to pursue the joint objectives of promoting the economic empowerment of Pakistani women, developing women entrepreneurs, and ensuring that women are afforded economic and business opportunities.
Also, on the margins of the TIFA Council meeting, private sector representatives from the United States and Pakistan met to discuss opportunities and challenges in the textiles and apparel sectors, as well as the information and communications technologies sector.