Pakistan may benefit as US scraps duty-free status for India

Will discuss matter in upcoming meeting on trade, investment framework

APP March 08, 2019
US President Donald Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is ready to capitalise on the opportunity that emerged following US withdrawal of special duty benefits for around $5.6 billion of Indian goods imports under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP), a senior official of the Ministry of Commerce and Textile said.

On March 5, the United States decided to withdraw the import duty benefits for India, which ranged from 1% to 6% under its GSP programme. Talking to APP on Thursday, the senior ministry official said, “the US provides GSP status to 121 developing countries including India, Afghanistan and Botswana for non-reciprocal and duty-free imports of certain products.

“Around 2,000 Indian products were enjoying duty-free status prior to the US announcement.”

The senior official revealed that the US and Pakistan would discuss the matter in the upcoming meeting on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement in the current month, during which different trade-related issues would be taken up.

Responding to a question, he disclosed that both sides would negotiate on possibilities of a free trade agreement (FTA) for enhancing bilateral trade.

Replying to another question, he pointed out that Pakistan was already enjoying GSP Plus facility from the European Union.

“The EU is a large trading partner of Pakistan which has provided the GSP Plus facility worth $700 million annually,” said the official.

On December 13, 2013, Pakistan and the EU signed the GSP Plus agreement, which allowed duty-free access for Pakistani products to EU markets, particularly textile, agriculture and food products.

Quoting statistics, he said Pakistan’s annual exports to the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain and France were valued at $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion, $965 million and $416 million respectively.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 8th, 2019.

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