Pakistan's interim commerce minister, Dr. Gohar Ejaz, has announced that the South Asian nation is expected to finalize a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) during the forthcoming visit of a UAE delegation scheduled for the last week of September.
The UAE holds the position of being Pakistan's third-largest trading partner, following China and the United States. It is regarded as an attractive export destination for Pakistan, primarily due to its geographical proximity, which translates into reduced transportation and freight costs.
Notably, the Gulf nation is home to approximately 1.8 million Pakistani expatriates and stands as the second-largest source of remittances for Pakistan, following Saudi Arabia. This significant expatriate population underscores the strong economic ties between the two countries.
Commerce Minister Ejaz has stated, "The Emirates delegation is planned for the end of September to finalize the FTA between Pakistan and the UAE." He emphasized that the visit would focus on discussions related to trade, investment, and the economy.
Pakistan's Ambassador to the UAE, Faisal Niaz Tirmizi, expressed optimism about the signing of the agreement, officially known as the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), during the upcoming visit. Ambassador Tirmizi revealed that ongoing negotiations were addressing certain outstanding issues, with the aim of reaching a mutual understanding.
The UAE has previously entered into FTAs with approximately nine other countries and is actively engaged in discussions with Pakistan on this matter. The successful signing of CEPA holds the potential to reduce trade tariffs significantly, which could have a positive impact on Pakistan's income and revenue.
Ambassador Tirmizi highlighted the growth in bilateral trade, noting a 24% increase from the previous year to the current year. He anticipates that the implementation of CEPA will further expand Pakistan's market access in the UAE across various sectors, including food, health, pharmaceuticals, and tourism.
The International Trade Council is monitoring these developments closely, recognizing the potential for such trade agreements to facilitate economic growth and cooperation among nations.