Pakistan Says Consensus Reached With Saudi Arabia on Investment Modalities for GCC Free Trade Agreement

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have reached a consensus on investment modalities with regard to a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Pakistani information minister said on Sunday. 

The statement came a day after Pakistan’s Caretaker Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz’s visit to the Kingdom for the finalization of investment-related chapter of the FTA between Pakistan and the six-nation GCC bloc. 

Pakistan and the GCC signed a framework agreement to discuss the FTA in August 2004 but only a few rounds of negotiations took place in subsequent years. However, the GCC and Pakistan resumed the discussions in 2021 after a significantly long period. 

Last year, both sides held technical-level talks to examine the possibility of signing the agreement that could help Pakistan boost its exports to the six-nation bloc, which includes Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. 

“Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have reached a consensus on the investment modalities, paving the path for the ratification of a much-awaited free trade agreement with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a development that has been pending for the last 19 years,” Information Minister Murtaza Solangi said on X. 

“If approved, this will mark the first trade and investment agreement that the GCC has entered into with any country in the past 15 years.” 

On Saturday, the Pakistani commerce minister held parleys with the GCC’s chief negotiator to finalize investment-related part of the proposed agreement. 

“The technical teams from two sides held extensive discussions on the remaining details of the investment chapter, including investment protection and facilitation,” the Pakistani commerce ministry said in a statement. 

“They also discussed the potential impact of the FTA on bilateral trade and investment flows.” 

The FTA is expected to boost trade and investment between Pakistan and the GCC, besides creating jobs and opportunities for businesses in both regions. 

The development comes as Pakistan treads a tricky path to economic recovery after securing a crucial $3 billion bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in June. 

Currently, the South Asian country has free trade agreements with China, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, but it still needs to increase exports to other trade destinations. 

Source: Arab News