Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan visiting Australia

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7th Session of Pakistan Australia Joint Trade Committee

The 7th Session of Pakistan Australia Joint Trade Committee was held in Canberra, Australia on 4th December 2017. The Pakistan delegation was led by Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce of Pakistan, the Australian side was led by Ms. Kathy Klugman, First Assistant-Secretary at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Australia. Areas of discussion included market access of goods, promotion of bilateral trade and investment opportunities in Pakistan, and difficulties faced by Pakistani businesses and Australian business visa issues were taken up during the meeting. Both sides agreed that current level of trade and investment between the two countries does not commensurate with the potential and underlined the need to find ways and means to enhance trade.

During his opening remarks, the Secretary Commerce thanked the Australian side for their hospitality and expressed his satisfaction over the increasing trends in bilateral trade between the two countries. The Secretary Commerce gave an effective presentation on trade and investment opportunities in Pakistan emerging in the wake of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor highlighting that Pakistan’s economy has been growing at a fast pace, and the macroeconomic indicators, and inward investment provide positive signals for foreign investors.

With regards to bilateral trade between Australia and Pakistan, the Secretary Commerce stated that Pakistan’s exports to Australia have not achieved the potential due to tariff differential faced by Pakistani exporters. He mentioned that products originating from Bangladesh are subject to zero duty because it has been granted the status of Least Developed Country and at the same time China enjoys zero duty because of a Free Trade Agreement with Australia. He underscored the need for a level playing for Pakistani products in the Australian market and suggested that Pakistan should either be accorded Developing Country (DC) Status with zero tariffs on its items of prime export interest or both sides should strive for a Free Trade Agreement. As an interim measure he suggested that an Early Harvest Program may be negotiated between the two sides and exchange concessions on priority items.

The Australian side acknowledged that Pakistani goods are facing higher tariffs but explained that they were in the process of phasing out their MFN tariffs, however they agreed to consider Pakistan’s proposal of creating a   level playing field either through a formal arrangement or may be through change of category in the Developing Country tariffs of the Australian System of Tariff Preferences.

The Secretary also raised the issue of travel advisory for Pakistan and non-issuance of business visas to Pakistani businessmen which is impeding trade between the two nations. The Australian side conceded that this issue was a long standing demand of Pakistan and agreed to take up with the authorities concerned.

 

Secretary Commerce Meets Hon. Keith Pitt

Assistant Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment

Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary Commerce held meeting with the Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, Hon. Keith Pitt and highlighted the issues of market access for Pakistani goods especially textile and agriculture products. The Assistant Minister has committed to look into the issues positively.

Secretary Commerce Meets Prominent Businessmen in Sydney

Mr. Mohammad Younus Dagha, Secretary at the Ministry of Commerce Pakistan after attending the 7th Session of the Joint Trade Committee held meetings with prominent businesses in Sydney. He met Mr. Jason Lang, Division Director at Macquarie Capital to encourage inward investment into Pakistan, highlighting the developments in the country on account of positive economic indicators, including growth and investment opportunities emerging from the China Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Mr. Mohammad Hage, NSW Chairman of the Australia Arab Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Mr. Frank Alafaci, President of the Asian Australian Business Council expressed keen interest in trade and investment opportunities in Pakistan, and its importance as a gateway to China and Central Asia.During another meeting, Mr. Graeme Burt, Group General Manager at Oracle Netsuite expressed interest in expanding their engagement with Pakistani companies due to the rise in small and medium businesses in Pakistan.

A dinner was also hosted by the Consulate General of Pakistan in the honour of Pakistani delegation led by the Secretary Commerce. This networking event was attended by the owners of the prominent Australian Businesses dealing in the Steel, Construction, Home Textiles, Sports Goods, Surgical Instruments, Information Technology, Financial and other services sectors. The dinner was also attended by Mr Muhammad Asif , President Australia Pakistan Chamber Of Commerce. During these meetings, the Consul General and the Deputy Secretary Commerce appreciated the role of the business community in forging growing bilateral economic relations between the two countries. The Consul General highlighted the economic potential of Pakistan and investment opportunities arising out of the positive economic developments in the country. He also stressed the need for increasing bilateral trade engagement between the two countries through the exchange of business delegations. The representatives of the Australian businesses were of the view that there is a need to increase participation of Pakistani companies in the trade fairs and appreciated the role of the Trade Commission of Pakistan in promoting and facilitating the bilateral trade and investment opportunities in the country.

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