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Pakistan set to clinch free trade deal with GCC

Interim Commerce Minister Gohar Ejaz (centre) holds the final round of discussions with the GCC’s chief negotiator in Riyadh on December 2, 2023. — X/Gohar Ejaz

ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Murtaza Solangi on Sunday confirmed that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have agreed on the investment modalities, paving the way for the ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — a development that has been pending for the past 19 years.

Taking to X — formerly known as Twitter — the minister said: “If approved, this will mark the first trade and investment agreement that the GCC has entered into with any country in the past 15 years.”

Commerce and Industries Minister Dr Gohar Ejaz-led delegation is in Saudi Arabia where he held talks with the GCC’s chief negotiator to finalise the investment-related part of the GCC FTA.

Sharing the details of the meetings in the kingdom on his X handle, the commerce minister said, “Productive discussions in Saudi Arabia as we work towards finalising the investment-related part of the GCC Free Trade Agreement.”

The minister was confident that this agreement will strengthen economic ties between Pakistan and the GCC, fostering new opportunities for trade and investment.

According to a statement issued by the ministry, the technical teams from the two sides held extensive discussions on the remaining details of the investment chapter, including investment protection and facilitation.

They also discussed the potential impact of the FTA on bilateral trade and investment flows.

“This is a major step forward in our efforts to strengthen economic ties between Pakistan and the GCC.” said Ejaz.

The investment chapter is an important part of the agreement, and we are confident that we can reach an agreement soon, the minister said.

The GCC FTA is expected to boost trade and investment between Pakistan and the GCC. The agreement is also expected to create new jobs and opportunities for businesses in both regions.

The two sides also discussed the possibility of holding a joint business forum shortly and to promote trade and investment between Pakistan and the GCC.

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