ISLAMABAD -  Pakistan has asked United States to revise travel advisory, ensure a preferential access to its textile market and ease visa regime for exporters of IT-related services to further strengthen trade ties between the two countries.

"There are several reasons for which Pakistan deserves preferential access to the US textile market," Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said during 8th Trade and Investment Framework Agreement’s (Tifa) Council Meeting. Tifa Council is the apex body tasked with developing trade and investment relations between Pakistan and the US, and resolving outstanding issues between the two countries.  The Tifa was signed by Pakistan and US in 2003.

The minister headed the Pakistan delegation to deliberate upon trade ties between two countries. The US delegation was led by Ambassador Michael Froman, United States’ Trade Representative (USTR) at the meeting, and includes Ambassador David Hale, Matthew Vogel among others. The Pakistani delegation included Secretary Commerce Azmat Ranjha, Additional Secretary Commerce Asad Hayauddin and Trade Minister at Washington DC Ali Tahir.

"Several international institutions have substantiated Pakistan's stable economy, while the security situation has also greatly improved that Pakistan is now a lot safer today than it was a few years ago," the minister said.

“A stable Pakistan will not only bring prosperity to its people but will also play its role in creating a stable region, which is our mutual goal,” he added.

Ambassador Michael Forman was of the view that Tifa served as a premier forum for advancing trade investment relationship between two countries.

“Current economic relationship with Pakistan is just a fraction of what it can be and with Tifa we can achieve that potential,” he said.

He was of the view that under the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, important structural reforms had been undertaken in Pakistan.

“These reforms include economic and energy reforms that has resulted in enhancing overall economic growth and lowering inflation. These reforms provide a conducive environment for further strengthening trade ties between the two countries,” the ambassador said.

During the meeting, the two sides discussed, ways and means to improve access of Pakistani exports to the US markets, including those of textiles, agricultural items, enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights in Pakistan, establishing dispute resolution mechanisms, opening up of defence procurement in Afghanistan to Pakistani companies, holding the next business opportunities conference in Pakistan and other trade-related matters.

Menawhile, talking to US Trade Representative to Pakistan Ambassador Michael Froman, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that the US was one of the largest trading partners of Pakistan and it would be in the interest of both countries to enhance their trade volume which right now was oscillating around US $5 billion for the last five years.

“Pakistan will like to further enhance that partnership and build closer economic ties with the US,” Sharif said.

Acknowledging the efforts of the government for stabilising the national economy, Froman said low inflation, increasing foreign exchange reserves to a record high level and successful completion of IMF programmes all showed the prudent economic policies of the government.

The prime minister thanked the ambassador for granting observer status to Pakistan on Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which would provide a great learning experience to it.

He said foreign companies were making handsome profits on their investments in Pakistan which indicated great opportunities and potential of the country.

Preferential market access might be granted to Pakistani textile products which would greatly boost Pakistani exports to the US markets, he added.

"We are executing mega energy and infrastructure projects across the country. Our energy situation has improved significantly and we will be able to overcome the energy shortage by the year 2018," a press release quoted the prime minister as saying.

The prime minister expressed the hope that 8th round of Tifa Council meeting would be very fruitful and both countries would find new ways to increase bilateral trade.

He said Pakistan had made substantial progress to protect Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and was removed from the Priority Watch List for IPR by the US government.

Ambassador Froman said Pakistan had made tremendous progress on several fronts in the last three years.

The security situation in the country improved considerably which was essential for investments and businesses, he added. 

He said Pakistan's GDP growth around 4.7 per cent was reflective of the economic turnaround achieved by sustained efforts of the government.  The meeting was also attended by minister for Commerce Engineer Khurrum Dastgir, Minister for Finance Muhammad Ishaq Dar and other senior officials.

The visiting delegation included David Hale, US Ambassador to Pakistan, Matthew Vogel, Deputy US Trade Representative, Ms Erin Frautschy Barrows, Ms Zeba Reyazuddin and Rob Garverick.