WASHINGTON — The White House pledged to help bolster Pakistan’s garment industry as part of an expanded joint action plan announced during a bilateral meeting between President Obama and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Thursday.
“President Obama indicated that the United States will help Pakistan create conditions for accelerated trade and investment-driven growth,” the two leaders said in a joint statement.
“Prime Minister Sharif reiterated the importance of market access for Pakistan as the most effective, mutually beneficial, and durable form of bilateral economic partnership,” the statement said.
Pakistan is the fourth-largest supplier of apparel, textiles and home furnishings to the U.S. market. Apparel and textile imports from Pakistan totaled $3.02 billion for the year ending Aug. 31, according to data provided by the American Apparel & Footwear Association.
The garment industry is a key part of U.S. and Pakistan efforts to expand a joint action plan on trade and investment established in 2013.
“The United States will help upgrade the capabilities of the ready-made garments [RMG] sector through support of vocational centers dedicated to RMG and improvements in industry labor conditions,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
The administration also said it will help Pakistan ramp up its International Labour Organization International Labor Standards Textile program” and support the launch of an ILO “Better Work Program.”
In addition, the U.S. will support an “investment event” in New York to “highlight opportunities in Pakistan’s RMG industry and other sectors.”
The U.S. Trade Representative’s office has also committed to stepping up outreach and training efforts to boost Pakistan’s utilization of the Generalized System of Preferences program, a program under which developing countries receive duty-free benefits on designated imports to the U.S.
“USTR is prepared to assist the government of Pakistan in identifying and petitioning for additional GSP tariff lines and to obtain eligibility for exports of goods under newly GSP-eligible travel goods tariff lines,” the White House said.
The U.S. also vowed to help Pakistan become an observer in the U.S.-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement; support its efforts to ratify the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement, and help enhance Pakistan’s access to U.S. and other government procurement markets.