ISLAMABAD: Officials of the Ministry of Commerce, led by Secretary Commerce Azmat Ali Ranjha, will leave for the United Kingdom soon for charting a future course of action in relation to bilateral trade in the wake of Britain’s vote to quit the European Union.
“The delegation will depart by the end of this month or early next month and kick off formal negotiations with the UK on the future shape of trade and investment ties in the backdrop of Britain’s decision in a June 23 referendum to exit the 28-nation European bloc,” an official in the commerce ministry told The Express Tribune.
For Pakistan, there is good and bad news post-Brexit
As Britain is parting ways with the EU, Pakistan will not be able to enjoy the Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) Plus status, which allows exports at zero or reduced duty to European markets, in coming years in the UK.
The delegation is going on the invitation of UK authorities in response to a letter written by Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir to his British counterpart soon after his taking over as trade minister.
Dastgir suggested considering alternatives to the GSP Plus facility to promote and streamline trade between the two sides.
“The UK has responded very positively and the two sides will develop viable alternatives in an effort to keep going duty-free exports to the British markets,” said the official.
The government of Pakistan is looking for a free trade agreement or a package similar to the GSP Plus, which will keep all the trade incentives in place.
Earlier, the Ministry of Commerce had written to the Foreign Office, expressing its desire to be made part of the strategic dialogue with the UK so that it could take up trade matters as well.
“Pakistan is a traditional trade partner of the UK and it wants to enhance exports by striking a comprehensive trade deal,” another official said.
Post-Brexit: What it means for the Pakistani economy
Trade between Pakistan and the UK stood at 2.06 billion euros in 2015. Of this, Pakistan’s exports to the UK amounted to 1.355 billion euros while its imports stood at 0.704 billion euros, with balance of trade tilted in favour of Pakistan.
Pakistan’s exporters have enjoyed duty-free access to the UK since January 2014 under the EU’s GSP Plus scheme. Since then, exports to the UK have grown about 40%.
Now, the trade concessions are likely to remain available to Pakistan’s exports to the UK for the next two years only.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2016.
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