About the Author: Rick Snelsire serves as Spokesperson at U.S. Embassy Islamabad.
Assistant to the President and Senior Director for International Economics at the U.S. National Security Council David Lipton met with a delegation of senior government officials of Pakistan led by Finance Minister Dr. Abdul Hafiz Sheikh and Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood to continue U.S. engagement with Pakistan on market access. Both sides agreed that improving Pakistan's investment climate is essential to ensuring that efforts to stabilize Pakistan's economy are sustainable. Both countries reiterated the importance of extending enhanced market access to Pakistan, especially by ensuring early implementation of the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) program, which will help generate employment and improve livelihoods for people living in conflict-affected areas of the country.
Both countries discussed progress on Pakistan's efforts to improve and consolidate its labor laws and its capacity to monitor and enforce labor standards. The parties also discussed a full range of investment climate issues and recognized the importance of concluding the negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). Pakistan also updated the U.S. on its efforts to secure market access in other markets, including the outcomes of the recently held Pakistan-EU Summit.
The parties discussed the scope and modalities for an Enterprise Fund to support the creation and growth of medium-sized industries in Pakistan. They recognized the need to enhance the links between the Pakistani and U.S. private sectors including through continued business to business dialogues and trade fairs.
This meeting builds on progress made at the U.S.-Pakistan Trade and Investment Council Meeting which U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk chaired with Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood in Washington on April 23. It also follows the commitments made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi at the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue to deepen bilateral engagement on market access issues.