Pakistan Seeks Indian Support on EU concession issue

The National Assembly Committee on Commerce Thursday was informed that Pakistan would plea the EU concession for 75 products with India at Foreign Secretaries level talks scheduled on 21st of this month.After 2010 devastating floods in Pakistan, the EU offered Pakistan unilateral concession over certain commodities, which still needs approval from World Trade Organization (WTO) and the EU Parliament. Secretary Commerce Zafar Mahmod informed the committee that the government at every forum actively pleaded the case. Even thePrime Minister and foreign minister sent letters to other countries seeking their support to get the concession from EU.Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, MNA/ Chairman Standing Committee on Commerce chaired the meeting. The secretary further told the committee that the EU provided several concessions to other countries in which some were still in progress under WTO rules and regulations. The EU announced special scheme for less developed countries (LDCs), and those who qualify could avail the concession from it. In this regard theUN organization has to consider the status of LDC for any country. Pakistan, India and China could not qualify for scheme because their population exceeds 50 million, which is pre-requisite for this concession of the EU, the committee was told. Before 2010 floods, Pakistan actively pleaded its case to get some concession from EU but was not successful.Secretary Commerce dismissed the idea that Pakistan did not properly advocate its case in WTO. “However there were other countries that wanted some incentives in reward for supporting Pakistan case in WTO,” he told.The committee was informed that the Pakistan has sent letters to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The Committee expressed concerns that war on terror has caused massive damage to Pakistani exports—and as a result; WTO trade regimes could not be run in letter and spirit. This is first time that concessionary proposal of 75 items has been submitted by Ministry of Commerce to European Union, which will be considered in March 2011. In this regard, the Committee urged to utilise all efforts to get these concessions with the confidence of all allied countries like India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and other countries. “A proper mechanism and course of action should be launched,” the Committee suggested.

The Committee appreciated that despite flood, war on terrorism and law and order situation, Pakistani exports have reached $2 billion per month in February, this due to tremendous role Pakistani businessman/farmers/exporters and traders. However, the Ministry of Commerce was advised to watch other factors of increase in exports like rise in prices of raw cotton, yarn, rice and other commodities. The committee expressed concerns over export of raw material of cotton, rice and other commodities, which is hurting local industry and domestic production. “Due to this, prices of local cloths have increased,” it told.

The committee urged that although cotton trade has been made free but efforts should be made to promote the trend of value addition in cotton/textile and other items, which can be done jointly by local industrialists and the Ministry of Commerce. The Committee advised to promote exports of other commodities like Kinnow, meat, etc. The Committee expressed satisfaction that “Pakistani grower is now getting international prices, luring local businessman/traders to participate in global trade system and free market regimes.”The committee was informed that quantity of export of different commodities has been increased. The export of rice has been increased by 84 percent in 2009-10 as compared to last year. Similarly, export quantity of different commodities such as meat increased by 43 percent, raw cotton by 116 percent, cotton yarn by 45 percent, yarn other than cotton yarn by 50 percent, art, silk and synthetic textile by 58 percent.The Committee expressed concerns that allocation for EDF for the year 2010-11 was Rs 2.097 billion where as only Rs 839.170 million has been released. The Committee also urged to bring transparency, rational and productivity in various ongoing projects.

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