WASHINGTON: US and Pakistani delegations meet at the US Trade Representative’s office for TIFA talks.—Courtesy Pakistan embassy
WASHINGTON: US and Pakistani delegations meet at the US Trade Representative’s office for TIFA talks.—Courtesy Pakistan embassy

WASHINGTON: A robust trade relationship between the United States and Pakistan is more important than ever to bolster Pakistan’s economic stability, says the US State Department as the two allies look for new options to go beyond strategic engagement and defence ties.

On Thursday, they concluded the 9th meeting of the council of the US-Pakistan Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which focused on boosting agricultural and digital trade. The meeting was chaired by US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and Pakistan’s Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar.

“In recognition of the importance of agricultural and digital trade to the economic relationship, the ministers directed officials to intensify engagement in these areas in advance of the next TIFA Council meeting,” said a joint statement.

At the State Department, Spokesman Ned Price told a news briefing that last year’s devastating flood has further increased the need for greater trade between the two countries.

“We believe that a robust trade relationship between the US and Pakistan is more important than ever to bolster Pakistan’s economic stability as it recovers from devastating floods,” he said.

Mr Price also underlined the need for “providing an opportunity to Americans and American businesses in this country, exposing them to new markets — Pakistani markets in this case.”

Recognise importance of digital, agricultural cooperation under TIFA

In a tweet posted on her official site on Friday, the head of the US team stressed another key point: elevating women’s role in Pakistan’s economic growth.

“Driving our discussion was a mutual commitment to advance programmes and policies that elevate women’s role in Pakistan’s economic growth. I am grateful to Minister Naveed Qamar for engaging in this critical conversation to increase gender equity and women’s economic empowerment,” Ambassador Tai wrote.

Mr Price also referred to the TIFA meeting, adding that the US remained committed to “deepening economic and commercial ties with Pakistan”, and to further growing a relationship that has “helped both Pakistani industries and consumers”.

“We have long been Pakistan’s largest export market, with potential for even further growth. And we believe there is great potential to expand bilateral trade with Pakistan,” he said.

Mr Price pointed out that the US was also a leading investor in Pakistan for the past two decades, with investments increasing to 50pc in the past year.

The joint statement on the TIFA talks said that the two teams engaged in trade- and investment-related issues and concerns, including agriculture, digital trade, intellectual property protection and enforcement, labour rights, good regulatory practices, and women’s economic empowerment.

“Both governments resolved to increase dialogue on these topics, to deepen the economic bilateral relationship and further the prosperity of working people in both countries,” it added.

According to the statement, the US appreciated the efforts by Pakistan to improve worker rights and protections and strengthen its intellectual property regime.

Both sides affirmed the importance of an effective intellectual property regime, achieving high labour standards, and following good regulatory practices.

The US welcomed the substantive conclusion of technical work on market access for beef from the US; the ministers noted that work to operationalise this arrangement would be expedited.

Both sides expressed their intent to enhance engagement on market access and the reduction of barriers for additional agricultural products. Pakistan welcomed the ongoing engagement on market access for its mangoes and fresh dates and asked the US to review additional market access requests for agricultural products once the current work is complete.

The ministers issued a separate joint statement reflecting progress and commitments under the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Joint Efforts to Empower Women and to Promote Women’s Entrepreneurship.

The collaboration seeks to elevate women’s role in Pakistan’s long-term economic growth by supporting supplier diversity and inclusive value chains, mentorship and peer learning, and equitable and inclusive access to the global marketplace. The ministers looked forward to ongoing and regularized inter-sessional work under the TIFA during 2023, and to reconvening the TIFA Council in Islamabad in 2024.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2023

Follow Dawn Business on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook for insights on business, finance and tech from Pakistan and across the world.

Opinion

Editorial

Injustice undone
Updated 13 Jul, 2024

Injustice undone

The SC verdict is a stunning reversal of fortunes for a party that was, both before and after general elections, being treated as a defunct entity.
Looming flour shortage
13 Jul, 2024

Looming flour shortage

FOR once, it is hard to argue against the reason that compelled flour mills to call a nationwide strike from...
Same old script
13 Jul, 2024

Same old script

WHEN it comes to the troubling issue of enforced disappearances/ missing persons — either Baloch or belonging to...
Misery and despair
Updated 12 Jul, 2024

Misery and despair

Is a life lived happily and respectably too much to ask for from your country?
Temporary extension
12 Jul, 2024

Temporary extension

THE cabinet’s decision to allow ‘legal’ Afghan refugees — meaning those with Proof of Registration cards —...
Anti-smog strategy
12 Jul, 2024

Anti-smog strategy

BY acknowledging that smog is a year-round problem, and not just a winter issue, the Punjab government has taken the...