Representatives of Afghanistan and Pakistan attended the TIFA Trade and Investment Agreement meeting as observers
High-level representatives from the United States, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan met on Tuesday at a meeting of the Council of Parties to the United States-Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA). Officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan attended as observers.
The meeting participants confirmed that TIFA is a valuable mechanism for strengthening trade and investment ties between the United States and Central Asian countries, as well as between the countries of the region.
The talks focused on expanding trade and creating a business-friendly environment that actively fosters regional private sector activity and improving regional connectivity. The participants considered the issues of trade, transit, and investment between the countries of Central Asia. In addition, the issue of the expiration of the duty-free trade regime under the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) was discussed. The meeting participants noted its benefits for the economic development of Central Asian countries, as well as the importance of adhering to the GSP eligibility criteria, including the protection of workers’ rights and intellectual property rights.
US officials provided their counterparts with information on key aspects of the Biden administration’s trade policies, including labor, environment, and climate, and the fair distribution of the benefits of trade among underserved communities.
Participants also discussed issues related to digital commerce, including agreeing to focus on ways in which the digital economy can empower small and medium-sized enterprises and women.
In addition, the participants noted the importance of implementing the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation and international best practices in the development of standards and their use in regulations. Participants welcomed the presence of Pakistan and Afghanistan at the meeting as an important opportunity to facilitate the expansion of ties and trade between Central and South Asia. They also praised the interest of Afghanistan and Pakistan in revising the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).
It was decided that the next meeting of the TIFA Council will take place in 2022 in one of the countries of Central Asia.