ISLAMABAD - US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) will be implemented this year after the gap of one decade since signing of this document, Federal Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Distagir said here Wednesday.

“The TIFA is in place for last ten years and six rounds of negotiations have already been held but without any outcome,” he said while addressing a press conference to brief the media on his recent visit to United States.

The federal minister said that the TIFA agreement could not be materialized due to lack of interest of the previous governments. He said that during the 7th round of TIFA, both Pakistan and United States identified targets to be achieved under the agreement, adding that the implementation strategy would be announced in the first week of June.

Khurram Dastagir said that he met with Ambassador Michael Froman in Washington DC to discuss variety of trade and investment issues and to chart a path forward on improving bilateral trade and investment flows over the next five years. He said that both the countries announced agreement on Joint Action Plan to expand bilateral trade and investment flows in next five year. The areas of cooperation under this plan include diversifying agriculture production, enhancing intellectual property protection, implementing the World Trade Organization (WTO), Trade Facilitation Agreement and engaging on Pakistan’s accession to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement.

In addition, it also included increasing trade in services, outreach to US State and Local Governments, promoting entrepreneurship and increasing dialogue between respective private sectors of both the countries. He said both the governments would immediately begin work on implementing the Joint Action Plan.

He said at TIFA meeting, Pakistan and United States signed a Memorandum of Understanding on joint efforts to empower women and to promote women entrepreneurship. To a question, he said that the bilateral trade between US and Pakistan was around $5 billion, out of which exports from Pakistan are about $3.5 billion while imports from the US are round about $1.8 billion. He said that the exports from Pakistan could be doubled to $7 billion provided `we set our house in order.’ He said that issues like market access, market exploration, capacity of accessing markets and engaging US and other instituted in enhancing trade were also discussed during the talks.

He said that Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) also came up to discussion, adding that representative of some ministries would be visiting US to have better understanding on the agreement.

He said that the Commerce Ministry will be studying the agreement line by line and would point issues that would be against interest of Pakistan. To a question, the federal minister said that his ministry was ready to hold talks with India on trade issues, so whenever India is ready we are ready to negotiate. Khurram Dastagir said that he had meetings with representatives of various US fora including US Business Chamber, International Finance Corporation, EXIM Bank etc. The meetings were held in candid and friendly atmosphere, aiming at promoting bilateral trade an investment between the two countries.