3rd Pakistan Thailand Joint Trade Committee Meeting held from August 12-13

Islamabad, August 13, 2015 (PPI-OT):Notwithstanding the warm and friendly relationship between Pakistan and Thailand, the cordiality of ties between the two countries has yet to translate into substantive trade, investment and economic relationship. However, in line with the vision of the Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s Government to forge closer commercial ties with the neighbouring and regional countries, the need to transform present state of friendly political relations in to sustainable and durable economic ties was earnestly highlighted during high-level visits in 2013. During these visits, leadership of both the countries expressed their desired to double the volume of bilateral trade by 2018.

The shared vision of the leadership of two countries translated into formulation of a Joint Trade Committee for Government to Government consultations and a Joint Business Council for interactions between the two private sectors. Both forums have been regularly holding meetings since their inception in 2013. Whereas the Committee has been deliberating on ways and means to enhance bilateral trade and strengthen investment and economic relations, the private sector is effectively using the platform to forge better cooperation.

The Ministries of Commerce of Pakistan and Thailand, in consultation with the public and private sector organizations, have identified various sectors including food and agriculture, fishery, auto-parts, gems and jewelry, textiles and apparel, energy, health etc. for furthering bilateral relations. It was also observed that the exporters of both the countries were facing tariff and non-tariff barriers due to preferential regimes maintained by both the countries in favour of their respective FTA partners.

It was mutually decided by the Ministries of Commerce of both the countries to commission feasibility studies for Pakistan-Thailand FTA. The result of the study indicates significant trade complementarities and considerable scope for increasing bilateral trade by lowering tariff and non-tariff barriers. It highlights that while Pakistan has signed regional and bilateral trade with its South Asian neighbors as well with China, Malaysia, and Indonesia, Thailand has free trade deals both bilaterally and as member of ASEAN grouping with Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China and India.

In this scenario, exporters of both countries potentially lose out to their competitors who enjoy preferential market access in each other’s market. A free trade agreement between Pakistan and Thailand is thus expected to create a level playing field for exporters of both countries enabling them to compete effectively in each other market. The study therefore, recommends starting negotiation for a Free Trade Agreement initially in goods and consequently in services and investment chapter that aims to achieve a deeper level of economic integration and to facilitate bilateral investment.

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