Warfare continues to become more professional and dehumanized every day.

The purpose of Extraordinary Edition is being revisited for winter, headed into 2013. U.S. foreign policy, Central Asia and the Middle East remain key focal points. Economics and culture on your front doorstep are coming into focus here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

U.S. State Dept. hones in on trade with Pakistan

Under the U.S. State Department, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced in Washington its course of action for Pakistan April 26

Comment: Does this sound like somebody in D.C. and in Islamabad has their priorities a long way from organized only to me? The sociopolitical situation in Pakistan, as it is with many other parts of the world to be fair, can quite fairly be described as a complete and utter mess. Neoliberal economics continues rigidly, relentlessly, unapologetically the enabling of business by those who can keep it together under sociopolitical duress to operate businesses ... in order to spur solutions to endemic problems including all things public health and lack of infrastructure. The opposite side of this coin continues--overtly or covertly--to be that simply providing assistance to victims of violence and strife is socialism, a methodology more deeply flawed than neoliberal capitalism. Ladies and gentlemen, the United States Trade Representative ...

Statement from U.S. Pakistan Trade and Investment Council Meeting

Washington, D.C. - Senior Representatives of the Governments of the United States and Pakistan met at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in Washington today for the fourth meeting of the United States-Pakistan Trade and Investment Council, under the U.S.-Pakistan Trade and Investment Agreement (TIFA) that was signed in 2003. Today’s meeting builds on the commitments made during the recent U.S. and Pakistan Strategic Dialogue to develop an open, results-oriented partnership between our two countries. This meeting demonstrates the continuing close cooperation between Pakistan and the United States on economic, trade, and investment issues. It manifests the importance both governments place on strengthening a long-term relationship by focusing on issues of importance to the Pakistani people.

Participants fully recognized that Pakistan’s participation in the global community’s effort to defeat the forces of extremism had seriously impacted the country’s export competitiveness. We reaffirmed our commitment to support Pakistan through market access initiatives. Both sides agreed to work together and with the U.S. Congress to move ROZ legislation forward so that we realize the key priority of creating legitimate and productive jobs in areas vulnerable to the influence of violent extremism. We also agreed to work together to develop new ideas to enhance market access, foster investment, and create jobs in both of our countries. By providing trade-based sustainable development, we will assist in the reconstruction and development of areas affected by the insurgency.

We also discussed progress on labor rights monitoring and enforcement, including Pakistan’s efforts to improve and consolidate its labor laws. We discussed ways that the United States and Pakistan can work together to enforce labor rights for Pakistani workers, an important issue for international investors. We reviewed a wide range of trade capacity building programs that the United States and Pakistan are implementing.

The parties also discussed a full range of investment climate issues, including intellectual property rights concerns, and sector-specific investment challenges. We reviewed the status of negotiations for a United States-Pakistan Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT). The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and U.S. Export-Import Bank, provided an overview of their programs in Pakistan and discussed areas for possible future cooperation. Both sides recognized the need for increased private sector involvement in the TIFA, the U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, and other bilateral initiatives to highlight the challenges that businesses and investors face and develop practical solutions that effectively address these issues.

The two sides agreed to continue this discussion on market access issues at a U.S.-Pakistan Joint Trade Study Group meeting in Islamabad. The TIFA process and Joint Trade Study Group together support our shared objective of building closer ties between the citizens of our two countries. Over the long term, solid economic, trade, and investment policies will create jobs, boost investment, and generate sustainable development.

Today’s meeting also occurred on the eve of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit. In that regard, we also exchanged views on the importance of improving South Asian regional trade cooperation. The United States agreed to support Pakistan’s efforts to expand market access with key developed nations in Europe and Asia, and Pakistan confirmed its intention to conclude a new transit trade agreement with Afghanistan. Pakistan provided an update on the implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA).

The TIFA process has been a key part of a sustained and multi-faceted high-level engagement between our governments, focused on tackling major economic, trade, and investment challenges. The process is designed to guide and complement the practical work that officials from a wide range of agencies in both our governments carry out daily. Our meeting provided an excellent review of key economic, trade, and investment issues, helped to focus our efforts to achieve priority goals, and allowed us to identify new areas for cooperation. With an overarching goal of providing a better quality of life for our peoples, the United States and Pakistan strengthened our commitment to work together to enhance market access, boost economic development, and increase private sector investment.

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