ISLAMABAD - Federal Minister for Commerce Engr. Khurram Dastgir has said that the Ministry of Commerce will undertake intense trade diplomacy in the coming financial year to allow easy access to Pakistani exporters in lucrative international markets and regions.

He further said that Pakistan will initiate trade dialogue with ASEAN, a 10-member bloc of East Asian countries, to get status of ‘Full Dialogue Partner’ by 2018. This will set the stage for a full fledge FTA with ASEAN which will open up huge markets for Pakistani products.

“Pakistan and Thailand will soon start dialogue on Free Trade Agreement as the Cabinet of Thailand has agreed to allow negotiations for Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Pakistan”, the Commerce Minister said in a press statement issued here.  Negotiations with Japan and Korea are also under way which are economic giants of East Asia and will help strengthen Pakistan’s economy. Korean Minister for Trade has invited the Pakistani Minister for Commerce to visit Korea to further negotiate trade matters. The Minister’s visit to Korea is expected in the second half of the current calendar year and the dates of the visit are being finalised.

The Minister for Commerce has said that the Ministry through extensive research has prepared a template and framework for negotiating future PTAs and FTAs with other countries. This framework takes into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of Pakistani economy and will help the Ministry to safeguard the interests of Pakistani importers and exporters while negotiating future trade agreements. This will also eliminate the apprehensions of Pakistani business community which they had towards previous trade agreements.

The Ministry of Commerce will start negotiations with Afghanistan for PTA and Thailand and Turkey for FTAs in the coming months. Secretary Commerce visited Vietnam for trade talks and undertook decisive trade talks in Hanoi, Vietnam.