'ROZs can help promote exports, provision of job
Business Recorder: Thursday July 23, 2009
ISLAMABAD (July 23 2009): Establishment of reconstruction opportunity
zones (ROZs) could prove helpful for the promotion of exports as well as
provision of job opportunities to youth. This was stated by National Assembly
member Marvi Memon at a meeting of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (ICCI) here on Wednesday.
She said that ROZs establishment was an initiative of her government, which
must be established for the promotion of exports. She said that due to law
and order situation, ROZs could be established in poverty-stricken areas or
peace areas that required financial assistance to grow.
Marvi Memon said that Pakistan had signed 47 bilateral investment treaties,
but the current draft of bilateral investment treaty (BIT) with the US was not
acceptable. She stressed that the US first sign FTA with Pakistan and then
both the countries should negotiate on BIT. She said the US had already
signed BIT with many countries and did not put any conditionality for signing
BIT, whereas conditions were put on Pakistan for signing this document.
She said that she would take up the matters of establishment of ROZs and
BIT in the National Assembly. President of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce-
USA (PCC-USA) Abdul Quayyum Khan Kundi, addressing the meeting, said
that hundreds of Pakistanis settled in the US were ready to invest in Pakistan
and the PCC-USA would act as a conduit to facilitate them to enhance their
investment in Pakistan.
He said that Pakistani businesses were lacking in research and development
(R&D), and urged them to invest more in R&D to improve their
competitiveness, adding Pakistani businessmen should embrace a proactive
approach in adopting latest technology and should not always look towards
He said Pakistani business firms were weak in value-addition and if they
wanted to get increased market share in the international markets, they
should work on adding more value to their products. He said this meeting
between the PCC-USA and ICCI should agree on an agenda to work on short
and long-term goals to promote trade and investment relations between
Pakistan and the US.
He said that if current draft of BIT was not acceptable, then it could be
negotiated with the US government. Addressing the participants, ICCI
President Mian Shaukat Masud said the United States was the largest trading
partner of Pakistan as 20 percent of Pakistan's total exports to the US totalled
3.7 billion dollars in during FY 2007-08, while the US exports to Pakistan rose
to nearly two billion dollars in 2008. "But still we think that our bilateral trade
and investment relations are not commensurate with the potential of both the
countries," he added.
Dilating upon the BIT between the two countries, he said the BIT should be a
reciprocal agreement, providing the same advantages to Pakistani investors
in the US as for US investors in Pakistan and the ultimate purpose of BIT
should be to further promote the US investment in Pakistan.
About creation of ROZs in NWFP, he said the ROZs should be designed to
leverage the power of the private sector to create jobs and fuel sustainable
economic development in this critical region. But he stressed that incentives,
given to these ROZs, should not have any negative impact on the industry in
the rest of the country.
He said US should cut tariffs on Pakistan's major exports, especially textiles.
He said though the US stressed the importance of economic growth in
Pakistan, its tariffs on Pakistan's leading exports were many times higher
than the average US tariff rate on imports from other countries, which
needed revision. He also demanded duty-free access by the US to Pakistan.