Political stability must for economic growth: Gilani

* PM appreciates duty-free access for 75 Pakistani products to EU markets

* US trade markets next target for Pakistan

By Hussain Kashif

LAHORE: The national economy cannot strengthen without political stability, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said on Sunday.

He was talking to Commerce Minister Amin Fahim, who held a special meeting with the prime minister during his two-day visit to the provincial capital on Sunday and discussed important issues related to trade and the traders.

During the meeting, Gilani said that the Pakistan People’s Party-led government and the trade community were committed to providing relief to the common man to strengthen Pakistan economically. He claimed that all efforts were being made to provide relief to the traders soon.

The PM also appreciated duty-free access for 75 Pakistani products to European Union markets, and said that efforts were on to ensure access for other local products to the EU markets as well. He added that US trade markets would be the next target for Pakistani exports.

He said that import of Pakistani products by European countries was in line with the government’s policy of enhanced trade with the world and not to depend on foreign aid. The policy, he added, would also help enable the government to ensure early rehabilitation of flood-hit people. He said the government’s next target was to gain access for Pakistani products to US markets.

During the meeting, the commerce minister informed the prime minister about the PPP-led government’s achievement of duty-free access for 75 Pakistani products to the European Union markets and said that after years of struggle and trade diplomacy, the European Union had agreed to give Pakistan a break.

Zero-rate export: He said following this, Pakistan had been allowed $1.3 billion, or 900 million euros, zero-rate export to European countries annually and the goods would enter the EU duty-free from January 1, 2011, which was a better opportunity for Pakistani trade in the coming years. He told the PM that the Commerce Ministry was endeavouring to establish better trade relations with Central Asian states through Afghanistan.

It is worth mentioning here that to give effect to the plan, the EU has reportedly suspended tariffs on 75 categories or lines of products that account for nearly 27 percent exports to the EU and it would be for three years. Most of the items in the list are primary and secondary raw materials, and semi-finished goods.

Currently, Pakistan’s overall exports to the EU stand at 3.3 billion euros annually, but after the duty-free access, it would enhance positively. He added that his ministry was analysing likely impacts on the sectors left out and would hold consultations with Pakistani stakeholders. The Pakistan government has also sent to the EU a list of 15 additional items to be added to the 75 items, including bed linen, garments, apparel and home textiles.

Sugar shortage: Wheat export and shortage of sugar in the country was also discussed during the meeting. Fahim, ruling out any shortage of sugar in the country, said that his ministry had not shown any negligence in this regard.

He said provinces were being provided with sugar in accordance with recommendations of the Council of Common Interests (CCI).

Source: Daily Times



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