ISLAMABAD: Indonesia's commerce minister on Friday announced the lifting of quota restrictions on kinnow imports from Pakistan, allowing shipment of an unlimited quantity of the citrus fruit to the Southeast Asian country.
The announcement came during the Indonesia-Pakistan Business Forum in Islamabad, which was attended by commerce ministers of the two countries.
Pakistan exported 36,000 tons of kinnow to Indonesia worth $19.8 million last year. "After the removal of quota curbs, it is expected that Pakistan's kinnow exports will increase to 60,000 tons," said All Pakistan Fruits & Vegetable Exporters, Importers & Merchants Association (PFVA) former chairman Waheed Ahmed.
Exporters suggest early steps for kinnow shipments
Indonesia Minister of Trade Enggartiasto Lukita said the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) was signed between the two countries in 2005 and the preferential trade agreement (PTA) in 2012, which became operational the following year.
He said a review of the PTA was still under way and three meetings had been held since 2016. Under the review, Indonesia has included 20 more tariff lines from Pakistan in the duty-free list including mangoes and rice.
Pakistan has also started export of white rice to Indonesia for the first time after unilateral concessions. A protocol will be signed by the two countries on Saturday.
The Indonesian minister also invited Pakistani businessmen to explore investment opportunities in his country.
Speaking on the occasion, Commerce Minister Pervaiz Malik said imbalance in bilateral trade following the PTA raised questions about the viability of the agreement and threatened the transformation of the original plan into a free-trade agreement (FTA).
"Trade growth [since the PTA] has been one-sided. Whereas Indonesia's exports to Pakistan increased from $1.2 billion in 2012 to $2.2 billion in 2016-17, Pakistan's exports to Indonesia unfortunately declined from $196 million to $137 million," said Malik.
To address the imbalance, Indonesia has agreed to remove impediments to Pakistan's current exports and has unilaterally granted zero-rated market access for 20 priority items of Pakistan's export interest.
Pakistan seeks to enter Iranian kinnow market
The minister said Pakistan's economy had been on the path of recovery since 2013, registering a growth of 5.3% in 2016-17, which was the highest in the past 10 years.
"Government's efforts to restore peace and stability and meet energy requirements have helped Pakistan make strides towards economic prosperity."
The minister was of the view that CPEC-related projects would boost foreign direct investment.
Recalling PricewaterhouseCoopers's forecast, he said Pakistan could become the world's 16th largest economy by 2050, overtaking countries like Italy and Canada. The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) signed an MoU with its Indonesian counterpart to establish linkages between businessmen of both sides.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2018.
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