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Pakistan, Bahrain agree to negotiate CEPA

By Our Correspondent
July 30, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Bahrain on Thursday agreed to start talks on a free trade agreement for trade liberalisation and increasing the volume between the two countries.

A statement issued after the conclusion of second session of Pakistan Bahrain Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) held in Manama, Bahrain said the "two sides concurred to start negotiation towards a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA)".

Pakistan has adopted a very liberal and investor-friendly investment policy, which provides no restriction on remitting capital. All sectors are open for investments and equal treatment is given to local and foreign investors.

The volume of bilateral trade between the two countries stood at $117.23 million in 2019-2020. Pakistan’s exports to Bahrain include rice, cotton yarn, textured yarn, printing ink etc. Whereas, major imports from Bahrain include ferrous waste and scrap, iron or steel and petroleum bitumen.

Pakistan and Bahrain also signed sectors focused MoU on manufacturing, tourism, logistics, information and communication technology, financial services, healthcare and education, and vocational training.

The MoU will remain enforced for a period of two years and can be renewed later subject to mutual approval by both parties.

The MoU was signed by the Board of Investment of government of Pakistan and Economic Development Board, the Kingdom of Bahrain.

The statement said the two countries have fostered a climate of innovation and advancement and foresee opportunities for strength and synergies to be cultivated, thereby creating successful and prosperous business relationships. "The countries have expressed desire to harness and enhance collaborative and cooperative business initiatives emanating from the Board of Investment and Economic Development Board."

Both sides highlighted the importance of regular meetings of established bilateral mechanisms and high level bilateral visits.

In regards to economic cooperation, the countries recognized great potential for further developing sectors of mutual interest with special focus on promoting trade and business development.

Consensus to invite each other to participate in relevant activities related to the MOU including conferences, symposiums, road shows, workshops, discussion courses, forums, exhibitions, business delegations etc. was also reached during the meeting.

The Pakistani side shared a list of exporters of auto parts as part of possible cooperation in the sector.

Furthermore, Pakistan and Bahrain have agreed to develop cooperation between the various textile associations in the two countries and have strongly welcomed cooperation at parliamentary level, emphasizing the exchange of bilateral visits.

It is worth mentioning that during the first session, there was a consensus that volume of bilateral trade is much below the potential of both countries and future prospects in this regard were discussed. The Pakistani side also proposed to offer Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Pakistan to Bahraini investors, which was well received by the Bahraini side.