ISLAMABAD: Despite mounting differences on political fronts with the United States, the Ministry of Commerce (MoC) is quite alive to the expiry of US Generalized System of Preference for Pakistan.
Pakistan is a beneficiary of the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program, which provides duty free access to over 3,500 products. Sectors covered under the GSP include various manufactured items and inputs like jewelry, agricultural products, chemicals, minerals, marble and carpets
Now the USA is planning to review its GSP scheme’s beneficiaries. The South Asian countries will be analyzed on the first stage in 2018. However, MoC has started review of Augmented Joint Action Plan agreed in a meeting between the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Obama in October 2015.
Secretary Commerce, Younus Dagha told Customs Today that the expiry of US’s GSP scheme was barely a blip on the radar as the US was Pakistan’s biggest market with $3.7 billion exported in the last fiscal year. Under the GSP, 3,500 products are covered that make up more than $17 billion of US’s imports.
The source told that the GSP scheme excluded market access to textiles and its products, therefore MoC had reiterated request for grant of meaningful market access especially in the textile sector. Then in July last year, the US government included some items into GSP scheme like travel bags (leather), travel goods (leather) of export interest to Pakistan.
The source added that MoC had started organizing seminars, conferences and workshops on GSP outreach to create awareness on Pak-US GSP among the stakeholders as well as to convince the decision makers both in Pakistan and the US.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan and the US exercise their cooperation in commerce and trade sectors under Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed in the year 2003. Under this agreement both sides discuss issues of mutual interest with the objective of improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment.
Moreover, the agreement has also constituted council comprising representatives of both countries, co-chaired by the Minister of Commerce and the US Trade Representative (USTR). TIFA Council monitors trade and investment relations, identifies opportunities for expanding trade, and so far 8 TIFA Council meetings have been held.