US denies duty-free market access to Pakistan while FTA with China is delayed

The Trump administration has turned down Pakistan’s demand for duty-free market access to the US for its products, disclosed a prime minister’s aide.

“We want duty-free market access for Pakistan’s exports to the United States, but Trump is a main hurdle,” Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile and Industry Abdul Razak Dawood said during a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile recently.

The adviser said the government would again try to approach the US administration after the end of President Donald Trump’s tenure.

Pakistan sought the duty relief after the US withdrew concessions given to India and Turkey. Pakistan is eying to take a big share of the US market by taking advantage of the scrapping of duty concessions for the two countries, which are major competitors of Pakistan in the international market.

Dawood revealed that China had agreed to relax duty on more Pakistani goods under phase-II of the free trade agreement (FTA-II), which would be signed on April 28 during the visit of Prime Minister Imran Khan to Beijing.

He was of the view that internal politics in China had caused the delay in inking the FTA-II. “The Chinese ambassador told me that internal politics in China delayed the FTA-II between Pakistan and China for six years,” Dawood remarked.

He disclosed that the Chinese trade minister was not willing to offer duty concessions on the export of 313 Pakistani goods, but the Chinese foreign minister and prime minister were in favour of giving duty-free access to such products.

The PM adviser pointed out that the matter had been delayed for years as Pakistan had approached China in 2014 seeking duty-free access for more goods. Now, the Chinese foreign minister and prime minister are ready to approve the package.

“China has agreed to provide duty-free market access to 313 Pakistani goods under the FTA-II like the Asean grouping,” he said, adding that Pakistan may be able to enhance exports to China by $1-2 billion because of the duty relief.

He said Turkey had refused to offer duty concession on the export of leather and textile products from Pakistan. “Turkey has warned it wants to impose 27% additional duty on the export of these products. It will result in reducing Pakistani exports further.”

He pointed out that FTA talks with Turkey had failed miserably and Pakistan’s exporters had also not been able to explore the potential of Indonesian markets, though Jakarta offered concessions on 20 products.


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