ADDU CITY, MALDIVES: Bangladesh is considering withdrawing a complaint about a European move to grant beneficial import conditions to Pakistani textile makers as an aid measure following floods last year, a senior Bangladeshi official said on Wednesday.
Europe and Pakistan had expected a long-announced plan for trade preferences for textile makers to be approved during a meeting of trade diplomats in Geneva this week, but a Bangladeshi complaint halted the move.
Pakistan was being granted the beneficial import conditions as an aid measure following devastating floods last year.
Bangladeshi officials said their Pakistani counterparts had “unofficially” raised the matter on the sidelines of an ongoing South Asian leaders’ summit on this remote Maldivian atoll.
“I will check with Geneva ... as far as I know we are supposed to withdraw this (complaint),” Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes said.
“There has been some informal discussion on this here with the Pakistani officials,” he said.
“They have asked us unofficially about it and we have told them we are checking and will get back to them. So discussions are on to find out a way.”
Islamabad called Dhaka’s objections to the beneficial import conditions “an accident”. “Of course, we are very concerned about it. We have been conveyed by them that it was at best an accident,” Hina Rabbani Khar, the foreign minister, said.
Bangladesh had concerns about the impact of the European measures, which would make it easier for Pakistan to export textiles to Europe. Bangladesh competes with Pakistan for textile sales to the European market.
The two-year cut in tariffs offered by the EU would be a small boost for Pakistan’s exporters. As a least developed country, Bangladesh enjoys quota and duty-free access to EU countries, unlike Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2011.