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B'desh protest to EU concession inappropriate - FPCCI
Nov '11
Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has termed Bangladesh's objection at World Trade Organisation (WTO) on granting EU trade concession for 75 Pakistani items, out of which 65 are textile products, as inappropriate.

Pakistan was struck with devastating floods twice during 2010 and again in 2011, causing huge losses to agricultural and industrial sectors. Seeing the severity of the affects, the European Council presented a proposal to unilaterally suspend, for a limited period of time, duties on important imports from Pakistan.

However, the proposed EU trade preferences for Pakistani textile products were opposed by India and it was considered the only stumbling point. Afterwards, the objection was withdrawn by India at the recent meeting of the Commerce Ministers of both countries. But unexpectedly, an objection from Bangladesh has effectively halted progress yet again.

Speaking on the issue with fibre2fashion, Senator Haji Ghulam Ali, President of FPCCI, said, “Bangladesh's step is not an appropriate one for Pakistan because presently, our country is faced with many challenges emerging from external and internal crises.”

“The opposition of Bangladesh will harm the trade of both Pakistan and the EU. For Pakistan, exports to the EU bring foreign exchange to be utilized for socio-economic uplift of the people and other humanitarian aid. EU imports our products because it suits them,” he added.

Giving reasons in favour of increasing Pakistan's exports to the EU, the Senator reasoned, “Trade with Europe is clearly in Pakistan's favour. There is, however, scope for more mutually beneficial commercial activity both ways. It is because the possibility of increasing general trade remains high with main partners. Hence, increasing exports to the EU is part of Pakistan's economic revival agenda.”

Informing about the current trade status between the EU and Pakistan, he says, “The European Union remains Pakistan's largest trading partner receiving 18 percent of Pakistan's exports and providing 9 percent of its total imports. The overall volume of trade between the EU and Pakistan was worth US$ 8.256 billion in the year 2010 with a trade surplus of US $ 729 million in Pakistan's favour. Pakistan's trade with the EU is mainly composed of textiles, which accounts for over 55 percent of the total Pakistani exports, followed by leather products.”

However, sounding optimistic, the FPCCI President mentions, “Bangladesh and Pakistan have close history. We are SAARC and OIC members, and both countries are involved in various bilateral treaties and have supported each other on various occasions. Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Pakistan have already taken up this matter at SAARC Conference in Maldives in their sideline meetings. I am hopeful that Bangladesh will eventually withdraw their objection at WTO and the duty free exports of 75 items to EU would benefit Pakistan exports in the next 2-3 years.”

Fibre2fashion News Desk - India

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