WASHINGTON, Oct 3 (APP): The US administration
and a number of congressmen have expressed support for early
launch of (Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZ) initiative
as a way to bring employment to people in economically depressed
areas, a group of Pakistani business leaders, who met with
the American officials and lawmakers, said.
The US Congress is expected to take up shortly a piece of legislation,
necessary to commence the program, under which products from designated
zones in Pakistan and Afghanistan would be exported duty-free to the
United States to spur economic growth and realize economic opportunities
for the local people. The program was envisioned during a meeting between
President Pervez Musharraf and President George Bush in Islamabad last
“We had some very good meetings with members of US Congress as
we discussed various aspects of the ROZs initiative and we feel encouraged
by US officils’ expression of support for providing economic opportunity
to people,” Naved Arif, Secretary, Trade Development Authority
of Pakistan, head of the visiting delegation told APP.
The delegates met Tuesday with Congressman Adam Smith, Congresswoman
and co-chair of Pakistan Caucus on the Hill, Sheila Jackson Lee, staff
of a House sub-committee on trade, officials at the Department of State
and Department of Commerce, and were scheduled to interact with some
other lawmakers and members of US-Pakistan Business Council on Wednesday.
Under the initiative, reconstruction opportunity zones will be set up
in the federally administered tribal areas, NWFP, border areas of Balochistan
and parts of earthquake-hit areas of Azad Kahmir.
Speaking at an Iftar reception hosted by Dr Maqsood Chaudhry, a member
on the board of directors of Pakistani American Leadership Center, Arif
sounded confident that Pakistani and American investors would come forward
with investment as most of the areas already have fairly developed infrastructure
required for manufacture and transportation of goods.
The business leaders reported full backing by the departments of state
and commerce toward realization of the program, which Pakistan officials
believe will also help bolster the South Asian ally’s exports to
the robust US market.
In addition to ROZs initiative, the United States has also committed
to spend $ 750 million over a period of five years to help Pakistan carry
out its sustainable economic development plan in the federally administered
tribal areas, where the country has deployed about 90,000 troops to contain
the threat of extremism on the Afghan border.
At the reception, Dr Maqsood Chaudhry said the PALC strives for fostering
close and multifarious relationship between the two countries. Secretary
Trade Development Authority thanked PALC for its efforts to help create
a better understanding on trade and economic matters and for its lobbying
for Pakistan on the Capitol Hill.
The Pakistani delegation includes leaders of chambers of commerce and
chief executive officers of various companies. Trade Minister at the
Pakistani embassy in Washington accompanied to the delegation to meetings.