Abbasi – Widodo agree to evolve PTA into FTA

Staff Report
Sunday - January 28, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Prime minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in a meeting with Indonesian president Joko Widodo, on Saturday, acknowledged that there is considerable untapped trade potential that can be explored if preferential trade agreement (PTA) is preferred; an official statement said.

According to detail, the two leaders noted that bilateral trade has crossed two billion dollars’ mark in last three years. But there is a need to improve the “trade imbalance”. They agreed that there is a need to increase two-way investments, to diversify and expand economic ties.

The two side agreed to further increase tariff lines under the existing mechanism of PTA between the two countries. There was unanimity of view to work together for gradually taking PTA to the level of free trade agreement (FTA).

Both underscored the importance of cooperation at multilateral forums. They agreed to work closely on major regional and global issues, and continue to work with mutual coordination and cooperation, in important regional forums including Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM) and the association of southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) regional forum.

Indonesia reiterated its support for Pakistan’s bid for full dialogue partnership with ASEAN. In addition, Pakistan was assured Indonesian support in its bid for Indian-ocean rim association.

PM Abbasi briefed president Widodo on Pakistan’s efforts to enhance regional connectivity and development including through China-Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC). He underscored that CPEC and other mega infrastructural projects offer vast opportunities.

Both sides recognised that Afghan led and Afghan owned peace process is mandatory for the stability and development in Afghanistan.

Abbasi briefed Widodo on Pakistan’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He appreciated Indonesia’s desire to assist Afghanistan in peace and reconciliation, which is vital for regional security.

The two leaders agreed to intensify counter-terrorism (CT) cooperation. The two sides also agreed to support each other in building their respective anti-terrorism capabilities. Prime Minister Abbasi briefed President Widodo on Pakistan's counter terrorism efforts.

Abbasi briefed Widodo on the steps taken by Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues with India including the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir. He highlighted the grave human rights situation in Indian occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Both President Mamoon Hussain and PM Abbasi asked for the personal intervention of president Widodo to give humanitarian consideration to the case of Zulfiqar Ali, a gravely ill Pakistani held in Indonesia.

After their talks, Abbasi and Widodo attended the signing ceremony of agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs) between the two countries.

The MoUs/agreement signed include MoU on the “import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and petroleum oil lubricants (POL) products from Indonesia,” additional protocol to PTA for 20 new tariff lines, MoU on trade facilitation and MoU between foreign service academy and centre of training and education Indonesia.

Separately, prior to Widodo’s departure, he witnessed the static display of Pakistan air force (PAF) JF-17 thunder jet and was briefed about the salient features and capabilities of the indigenously manufactured fighter aircraft.

He showed keen interest in this sleek and state-of-the art multi-role fighter aircraft, which has been equipped with cutting edge avionics and weaponry.