ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), agreeing to take every possible step in increasing the bilateral trade volume to $1 billion by next year.

The MoU was signed in the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), Canberra on the sidelines of Australia-Pak­istan Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting. Pakistan delegation was led by Ministry of Commerce Secretary Muhammad Shehzad Arbab.

In the meeting, both sides agreed that Austrade and TDAP will closely collaborate for trade promotion activities.

The major components of the MoU were to facilitate and strengthen trade and investment between the two countries including their organisations and institutions, to achieve a continuous expansion of mutually beneficial economic cooperation.

With the aim to reduce barriers to trade, both countries will increase strategic bilateral cooperation including, but not limited to, the areas of agribusiness, education services, energy and resources, heavy and light engineering (including services and equipment).

Protection of investments and in accordance with customary international law, and subject to its laws applicable from time to time and to the particular circumstances of the host State along with transparency of laws and regulations is a major component of this MoU.

Under the MoU, an implementation committee would be formed with the representatives from Australian High Commission at Islam­abad, Ministry of Commerce and Board of Investment of Pak­istan.

The Australian government offered aid for trade under the country assistance programme for the strengthening of the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Commerce and private sector organisations of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2014