Senior officials from the Governments of the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan met on March 12 in Islamabad under the auspices of the United States-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). The officials reviewed progress under the bilateral Joint Action Plan, a plan created by President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif in 2013 to boost two-way trade and investment. Specifically, the two parties discussed trade promotion efforts, entrepreneurship, diversification of agriculture, intellectual property rights, initiatives to boost investment, and labor issues.
This was an inter-sessional meeting of the TIFA Council, which reviewed the trade and investment relationship between the United States and Pakistan. The Council serves as a key forum for bilateral trade and investment discussions between the two countries. The TIFA seeks to address impediments to greater trade and investment flows and increase economic linkages between our business communities.
During the session, the two sides discussed the overall trade and investment environment and had focused discussions on a number of areas, including: promoting trade and investment, Pakistan’s recent admission as an Observer Nation to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), trade facilitation measures being adopted by the Government of Pakistan, formation of the Pakistan United States private sector Joint Business Forum, and recent developments in the regulatory and enforcement environment in the area of intellectual property protection in Pakistan. Additionally, the two delegations discussed joint collaborations aimed at supporting small and medium enterprises (SME) in Pakistan and improving access to finance.
The Pakistani side expressed appreciation for USAID’s recently announced U.S.-Pakistan Partnership for Access to Credit. USAID, in partnership with four Pakistani banks, will make $60 million in credit available for SMEs in Pakistan. The United States expressed appreciation for the initiatives undertaken by the Pakistani Ministry of Commerce as a follow up on the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to promote the economic empowerment of women and women’s entrepreneurship, which was signed by Pakistan and the United States during the 7th TIFA Council Meeting in May 2014.
During the meeting, both parties took note of the success of the U.S.-Pakistan Economic Partnership Week held in Islamabad on March 9-12, which featured the visit of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and the third Pakistan-U.S. Business Opportunities Conference. The latter brought to Pakistan more than 140 representatives from U.S. companies from sectors such as energy, agriculture, textiles, healthcare solutions, infrastructure, and information technology. The two sides also lauded progress in the trade of Pakistani mangoes and U.S. live cattle since the last TIFA meeting in Washington in May 2014.
Lastly, the U.S. side congratulated their Pakistani counterparts for attaining Observer status to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement as an important first step to Pakistan’s prospective accession to the GPA. The two parties resolved to hold their next meeting, a senior-level TIFA Council meeting, in Pakistan in the near future.