Code 54698
PublishDate: Sunday, December 2, 201211:59

Pakistan, United States pledge to focus on trade, not aid

A symbolic move that suggested that US-Pakistan relationship are heading towards stability, the US-Pakistan Economic and Finance Working Group met in Washington, DC.

A symbolic move that suggested that US-Pakistan relationship are heading towards stability, the US-Pakistan Economic and Finance Working Group met in Washington, DC, promising to focus on trade and not just aid.
According to a statement issued by the State Department, the group focused on “expanding bilateral economic engagement, particularly in the areas of trade and investment”.
At the talks, the Pakistani delegation was led by Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh, while Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides represented the American side. The statement said that the US and Pakistan are committed to broadening private sector ties between both countries.
Speaking to reporters before the meeting, Nides said the group was to discuss economic growth and what both countries can do together. The aim, he said, was “not just to uphold national securities, but to foster economic growth”.
Sheikh said the US-Pakistan economic relationship is very important. “The US is Pakistan’s most important trading partner. Historically, they have invested the most in our country,” he said, adding that Nides has played an important part in reenergising the partnership.
“The areas we would like to focus on are trade, investment, better utilisation of assistance and trying to bring our businesses together to put this relationship on a strong foundation,” said Sheikh.

In a press release, Nides highlighted the US government’s initiatives in broadening private sector ties, which included the Pakistan investment conference held in London in October, the launch of the Pakistan Private Investment Initiative, as well as conferences which focused on training and mentoring entrepreneurs from Pakistan.
Meeting with USAID
Sheikh also met with USAID Administrator Dr Rajiv Shah on Friday.
The State Department statement said that in meetings with USAID and other State Department officials, they “highlighted the positive results of ongoing civilian assistance programmes in Pakistan, including significant contributions in sectors critical to economic growth”.
The two sides agreed that Pakistan’s prosperity is “predicated on energy sector reform and the United States welcomed Pakistan’s commitment to undertake the reforms needed to attract greater investment”.
MFN status
The US also commended Pakistan’s efforts in expanding economic cooperation with its neighbours, including Pakistan’s plans to extend most-favoured-nation (MFN) status to India by the end of the year.
“Both sides discussed ways to improve trade and transit with Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics, citing the importance of enhanced trade for the region’s stability and prosperity”.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2012

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