RI, Pakistan to discuss free trade agreement

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The governments of Indonesia and Pakistan plan to follow up their Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by discussing the conclusion of a free trade agreement, Pakistani Ambassador to Indonesia Sanaullah said here on Friday.

Sanaullah and Indonesian Trade Minister Gita Wirjawan here on Friday signed the Preferential Trade Agreement which had been discussed since 2005.

"This agreement will give faster and greater market access not only to Pakistan`s Kino Mandarin Orange but also to other commodities from Pakistan, in addition to increasing Indonesia`s palm oil exports," Sanaullah said.

After signing the Preferential Trade Agreement with Gita Wirjawan, the Pakistani envoy said the plan to have a free trade agreement was expected to optimize potential trade between the two countries.

"It will open opportunities for us to do what we have previously missed," Sanaulah said.

Meanwhile, Gita Wirjawan said the two countries would discuss a mutually-beneficial free trade agreement.

"We are going to discuss the free trade agreement but it does not mean that we can complete it in a short time," Gita Wirjawan said.

He said the free trade agreement between Indonesia and Pakistan should complement agreements that had been made multilaterally. "This needs to be kept in mind Lest our bilateral discussions on the free trade agreement break the spirit of multilateralism. I have already pointed this out to Pakistan`s envoy and trade minister," Gita Wirjawan said.

Sanaullah said the Pakistani government had expressed hope that discussions on the free trade agreement could start when the Indonesian trade minister visited Pakistan.

He said Gita Wirjawan planned to visit Pakistan this year but the date had yet to be fixed.

"We hope in the first semester of this year the Indonesian trade minister can visit Pakistan so that we can start to negotiate the free trade agreement," Sanaullah said.(*)

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