Pakistan would pursue separate trade agreements with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the Sultanate of Oman, according to Razak Dawood, the Prime Minister’s Commerce Advisor.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes the aforementioned countries as well as Qatar, Kuwait, and Bahrain, began discussions concerning free trade agreements with Pakistan in 2004 and reached an agreement in 2007. However, the free trade agreement has not been implemented since 2015.
In an interview with Reuters published on Sunday, Dawood stated that the South Asian country aimed to initiate bilateral trade negotiations with the three Gulf Arab states within the next 6-12 months.
“At the moment, we believe it is far preferable to make individual (deals) than than with the GCC as a whole,” he said in Dubai.
When a preferential trade agreement is signed, it is common for specific items to gain preferential access as a result of tariff reductions or eliminations.
If the negotiations are successful, according to Dawood, they will cover a limited number of topics and will not be as comprehensive as a free trade deal, though they may be expanded over time if the negotiations are successful.
Neither he nor his representatives specified which specific items Pakistan would like to include in the agreement.
The United Arab Emirates announced earlier this month that it would seek comprehensive trade and investment agreements with eight countries, including India, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, but not with Pakistan, as part of a new initiative.
Saudi Arabian, United Arab Emirates, and Omani officials were unable to be reached for comment on Dawood’s statements.
Dawood is in Dubai to assess Pakistan’s preparations for the six-month Expo international fair, which will begin there next month and go until the end of next year.
Pakistan would place a strong emphasis on safety and diversity at Expo, according to him, in the aim of bringing more tourists and investors to the South Asian nation.
Because of security concerns, the New Zealand cricket team has withdrawn from an upcoming tour of Pakistan.