ISLAMABAD: Several member countries of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) are now in contact with Pakistan to initiate dialogue on bilateral trade agreements, Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood said here on Friday.The commerce secretary informed a meeting on Pakistan's access to European markets that EFTA member countries like Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein, Monaco and Switzerland have indicated their willingness to enter into dialogue with Pakistan for concluding bilateral trade agreements.
Mr Zafar said that the dialogue with EFTA member countries is expected to start in April this year, and trade agreements with these countries will further boost Pakistan's exports.
Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, who chaired the meeting, decided to call a meeting of Pakistani envoys stationed in the countries of European Union during his forthcoming visit to the United Kingdom in order to convey appreciation to the European Union for its support to the case of Pakistan's exports to EU countries.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) had already approved the 'European Package' of 75 items which would be exported by Pakistan to EU countries. The approval of the EU Parliament now would pave the way for Pakistan to export the 75 items without any duty effective January 1, 2012, the commerce secretary briefed the meeting.
He also informed that the over and above impact on Pakistan's export would be around $450 million to the European Union.
The meeting was attended among others by federal ministers Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and senior officials of commerce, textiles and foreign affairs and representatives of private sector.
Representatives of private sector attending the meeting, called upon the government to take immediate action for the uninterrupted supply of energy to the export industry in order to fully capitalise the expected tariff concessions from the EU and EFTA countries.
Responding to private sector demand, the prime minister said that the government had addressed the circular debt issue to a large extent which would lead to the thermal generation of electricity to its maximum capacity by improving the supply situation considerably.
Mr Gilani said that he had already held a meeting with the representatives of Aptma earlier in the day who suggested some out-of-box solutions to overcome energy shortage.
Mr Gilani informed the meeting that British Secretary of State for International Development, Andrew Mitchell had appreciated the normalisation of trade links between Pakistan and India.
On the occasion, Commerce Minister Amin Fahim stated that the cabinet decision on trade normalisation with India had been widely appreciated inside and outside the country.