Saarc countries: ‘Sensitive list needs to be reviewed’

FPCCI president stresses cooperation among member nations.

Our Correspondent July 10, 2014

KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Zakaria Usman said the respective governments of South Asian Association of Regional Countries (Saarc) should speed up their efforts to increase regional trade.

“Saarc governments need to review their country-specific list of products that have export capacity but their trade volumes are lower,” said Usman. “There is also a requirement to devise strategies to promote trade and development in the region by reducing trade barriers. Sensitive list should be revisited to liberalise trade among Saarc countries for those products, which are being imported from other countries.”

He said at present Nepal maintains 25.5% of total product lines in sensitive list which means that 25.5% product lines are not contributing in regional trade with Nepal. Similarly, 22.6% of total products lines are included in the sensitive list of Pakistan, which means that they have no contribution in regional trade. Sri Lanka’s list contains 20.3%, Maldives 12.8%, India 16.9% and Bhutan 3% of total product lines.

Shifting of items from sensitive list to general category leads to reduction in duties and boosts trade. The eight Saarc member countries including Pakistan and India concluded a landmark treaty South Asian Free Trade Area (Safta) with a pledge to allow free trade among member countries by eliminating trade barriers and scaling down their tariffs in two phases from 0% to 5%.

“Under the Trade Liberalisation Programme of Safta, the customs duties on products will be progressively reduced and this programme will be completed by 2016. Currently, most of the tradable items are in the negative lists of the respective member states.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2014.

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