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US-Pakistan TIFA talks to begin today

  • Issues being faced by Pakistani IT companies with regard to access to the US market is also on the agenda
Published March 7, 2022
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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States (US) are all set to hold parlays on bilateral trade and investment under the umbrella of Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on March 7-9, 2022.

The US side is expected to be led by Assistant US Trade Representative (AUSTR) for South and Central Asia, Christopher Wilson whereas Pakistan team will be headed by Secretary Commerce. Commerce Ministry, sources said, has finalized discussion points in consultation with other Ministries, which have already been shared with the US side. The new template of Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) is also expected to be part of deliberations.

The sources said the main agenda in Pharma sector is to develop institutional linkage with the US. In this regard, US help would be sought for establishment of Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Pakistan. In addition, certification of Pakistani Pharma Companies by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is being proposed as it would enable the Pakistani companies to participate effectively in international tenders.

The issues being faced by Pakistani IT companies with regard to access to the US market is also on the agenda.

According to Pakistan Software Export Board (PSEB) currently in IT sector, 629% of exports are to the US but the bulk of these exports are being carried out by people, themselves.

MoC begins to fine-tune agenda ahead of Pak-US meeting on TIFA

The sources said Pakistani side will seek US help to remove barriers/ bottlenecks in the US market faced by Pakistani companies/ individuals.

PSEB argues that Pakistani companies are not taken seriously by the US, and have requested the Pakistani government to seek assistance from the US government to access their chambers.

Commerce Ministry; however, argues that the US government can only help in Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) and similar arrangements, adding that the US side draws a line in interfering in matters of private companies. However, the US side will be asked for visa facilitation for the delegation.

PSEB has also proposed that assistance may be sought in exchanging targeted delegation which may result in continued engagement with Pakistani diaspora. Additionally, assistance may be sought for inclusion of Pakistani companies in the vendor list. PSEB has also planned road shows in three or four U.S States.

Pakistan is also expected to seek US collaboration to establish online system for animal health surveillance and disease reporting. A project approved for meat export enhancement and for disease surveillance under the PSDP is also under consideration. Hence, Pakistan can seek technical expertise/ insight on the matter from the US.

Pakistan will also seek support of the US in handling the Bovine Spongi form Encephalopathy (BSE) disease in Pakistan. MNFS&R will be submitting a dossier to the World Organisation for Animal Health, formerly the Office International des Epizooties (OlE), and the US and technical support in this regard would be welcomed.

According to sources, the US also wants to export beef to Pakistan; however, traceability of the origin of the meat continues to be a point of concern.

Pakistan will seek assistance from the US for an irradiation facility as it increases shelf life of the product.

The sources maintained that Board of Investment (BoI) will share proposals regarding investment in the Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Ministry of Energy noted that it had shared proposals from perspective of investment with one in relation to transmission and distribution while another project is on automated metering pilot project. Under the ARE (Alternative and Renewable Energy) policy, ARE projects will be done via competitive bidding. The US side will be requested to participate.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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