Asean-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement

There is a precedent for cooperation based on Pakistan`s counter-insurgency expertise: in 2005, Pakistan and ASEAN signed a declaration of cooperation in the fight against terrorism, including “security, information and law enforcement”. Pakistan has a great deal of room for manoeuvre to revive this agreement and build on it to extend it to other areas of cooperation, including the insistence on a regional free trade agreement and the inclusion of a member of the ASEAN Comprehensive Dialogue. So far, Pakistan`s efforts to penetrate some Southeast Asian countries have not been successful. To become an attractive partner for ASEAN countries, Pakistan needs to become more competitive in trade and add value as a bilateral partner. Pakistan could do this by producing products or offering military know-how that may not yet be available on the ASEAN market. 7. In 2013, ASEAN`s total trade with Pakistan amounted to $6.3 billion. ASEAN exports to Pakistan amounted to $5.3 billion, while ASEAN imports increased to $1 billion. Pakistan`s direct investment to ASEAN amounted to $13 million in 2013. In other areas of cooperation, ASEAN and Pakistan have concluded cooperation in the areas of trade, industry and investment, science and technology, drugs and narcotics, environment, tourism and human resource development.

6. In the trade sector, ASEAN and Pakistan conducted a joint feasibility study for an ASEAN-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) to strengthen and expand the overall economic engagement between ASEAN and Pakistan. The joint feasibility study was carried out by researchers from both sides: the Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) and the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER). At the 41st MEA, held in Bangkok, Thailand, from 13 to 14 August 2009, Ministers took note of the completion of the Joint Study on the Feasibility of the ASEAN-Pakistan Free Trade Area and agreed to defer consideration of the recommendations contained in the study. In 2008, Malaysia and Pakistan signed a free trade agreement that makes Malaysia one of Pakistan`s top five importers. In 2012, Pakistan and Malaysia signed a Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) to further improve trade relations. Malaysia`s ambassador to Pakistan recently said the agreement had “played an important role in improving bilateral trade and the volume of trade, which was only $700 million in 2010, rose to $2.18 billion in 2015.” Pakistan is not yet an attractive partner for ASEAN, but the state needs more attention, from its commercial potential to its security expertise to its role in geopolitics. 2. The initiatory meeting on the establishment of sectoral dialogue relations between ASEAN and Pakistan was held in Islamabad on 5 and 7 November 1997. At the opening meeting, it was agreed that the ASEAN-Pakistan SECTORAL DIALOGUE would first cover cooperation in the fields of trade, industry, investment, environment, science and technology, drugs and narcotics, tourism and human resource development. . .

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