ISLAMABAD

Pakistan and Belarus have agreed on a Trade and Economic Road Map of Bilateral Cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in the short and medium term.

The terms of the road map were finalised in a meeting of the Joint Working Group organised by the Ministry of Commerce. Minister for Commerce, Engr. Khurram Dastgir Khan and Minister for Industry of Belarus Vitaly M. Vovk inaugurated the negotiations between the two countries.

The two sides agreed to enhance and strengthen cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, industry, agriculture, agricultural research, investment, science and technology, textile, healthcare and pharmaceuticals.

Speaking at the inaugural session of the meeting Khurram Dastgir Khan said that Belarus is one of Pakistan’s target markets with the potential to enhance bilateral trade. He said that both sides if work together and establish institutional links can take bilateral trade to $1 billion in next five years from the current $57 million.

He apprised the gathering that Pakistan would soon make formal request to the Eurasian Economic Commission for starting negotiations on FTA. He expressed his gratefulness for the willingness of Belarus during the recent visit of PM to support Pakistan’s case of greater market access to Eurasian Economic Union through an FTA with Pakistan.

The two sides agreed to expand the range of mutual trade in goods, increase in the share of goods in the field of high technologies and high value added products. It was decided that cooperation in the area of trade in services, in particular in areas such as information technology, healthcare, financial services, transport and logistics would be enhanced.

It was established that cooperation in the field of quality control, quarantine, certification and standardisation of products will be intensified. The two sides agreed to cooperate to eliminate the existing and prevent the introduction of new trade barriers.

The Working Group decided to create a Joint Trade Committee which will hold meetings every six months alternately in each country. The first meeting of the committee will take place by end of 2015. This Committee will discuss the identification and elimination of trade barriers between the two countries, the establishment of commercial bank branches on reciprocal basis and any other issue hampering the growth of bilateral trade.

The two sides agreed to hold regular consular consultations to discuss cooperation in consular sphere as well as visa facilitation mechanism for businessmen, persons participating in scientific, academic and cultural activities in both countries. The exchange of Belarusian and Pakistani delegations of customs authorities to reconcile trade statistics was also agreed between the two sides.