ISLAMABAD, Sept 20: Pakistan and Tunisia on Thursday signed four agreements of cooperation in agriculture, science and technology, education and cottage industry, and agreed to finalise the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) by the end of December.
The agreements were inked at the conclusion of eighth session of Pakistan-Tunisia Joint Commission.
Agreements on cooperation in handicraft industry and extension of science and technology execution programme were signed by Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, Malik Amad Khan and Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Tunisia, Hedi Ben Abbes, who led their respective sides at the two-day session of the commission.
The other two agreements related to cooperation between the International Islamic University Islamabad and the Zaytuna University in Tunis, and the Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Chamber of Commerce of Tunisia.
The agreements cover development of cottage industries of the two countries, exchange of experiences in bio-technology, research in science and technology for development of agriculture, exchange of research information and training.
The agreement between universities of the two countries would lead to training and exchange of teachers, exchange of students and organising conferences, while the agreement between ICCI and Tunisian chambers would facilitate businessmen in the two countries.
The two countries have decided to expedite signing of Preferential Trade Agreement by December. An official of the ministry of commerce told Dawn that the two countries would exchange concession list for finalising the agreement.
Currently bilateral trade between the two countries is in favour of Tunisia.
Pakistan’s exports to Tunisia amount to $25 million while its imports from Tunisia total $64 million.
Tunisian Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs described the agreements a step in the right direction, and said that Tunisia is now looking towards East.
The new government in Tunisia is trying to make a balance in its relations with all countries. Asia and Africa had been neglected in the past, he said.
Mr Hedi Ben Abbes held a meeting with Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and discussed matters pertaining to bilateral relations.
Amin Fahim stated that relations between the two countries were important and they should meet regularly to enhance trade ties.
Earlier, Mr Ben Abbes called on Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and discussed ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries.
Raja Pervez Ashraf stressed that the two countries must expand and enhance bilateral trade and businessmen from both countries should undertake joint ventures as well as initiate joint projects.