. .

Aug 27 - Sep 02 , 2001

Pakistan, EU to take up quota issue on Sept 7

Pakistan and European Union authorities would meet in Brussels on September 7 to find out a solution to the textile quota restrictions and tariff issues. The commerce ministry sources term these talks very crucial in view of the fact that three earlier rounds of discussions have failed to bridge the wide gap on these two issues. Commerce Minister Abdul Razak Dawood would lead the Pakistani side in the fourth round of talks starting September 7.

The two sides had, however, agreed to adopt a moderate way to resolve the tariff disputes at the third round two months back without leaving their respective stated positions.

The EU delegation had promised to respond to the Pakistani suggestions within a week after consultation with EU policy makers. Official sources said that Pakistan's hand-made fabrics industry will be wiped out in the wake of flood of European products if the EU demands on tariff were accepted.

The commerce ministry and Central Board of Revenue had been in contact to devise a mechanism to reduce tariff particularly for the hand-made fabrics that could ensure that Pakistani industry remained unhurt. Pakistan has to review the benefits it is going to get in return for tariff concessions to the European Union in this regard, these sources said.

The EU and Pakistan have been struggling to get more and more benefits for them to make their industries competitive aiming at enhancing the trade of textile products. Three rounds of talks have, however, failed to make any headway. Pakistan has been asking the EU to recalculate the anti- dumping duties on Pakistan in the light of the appellate body's ruling in case of India, these sources said.

Pakistan calls for greater trade ties with India

Pakistan said on Thursday it was keen on expanding trade with India once outstanding political issues had been resolved. Bilateral trade between the two countries has suffered from the dispute over the Himalayan region of Kashmir but analysts say it has huge potential.

"We are very, very keen on doing a lot of trade. We hope the political issues get sorted. If they get sorted out we will progress with trade," Abdul Razzak Dawood, Pakistan's commerce and industry minister, told reporters in New Delhi. Dawood was in India for a two-day meeting of trade ministers from the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation countries.

15 parties interested in wheat export

Fifteen interested parties have so far purchased tender documents from TCP for the export of 200,000 tons of wheat from new crop.

The bids will be opened at the TCP head office at Finance and Trade Centre. The offers have been invited for bulk, bagged as well as containerized shipments.

The TCP has recently exported 100,000 tons of wheat to Iraq in three shiploads. Pakistani wheat quality has been accepted by Iraq.

Acceptance of Pakistani wheat by Iraq, which had earlier rejected certain shipments of wheat from India and Argentina on quality consideration, has brought the name of Pakistan on the map of international market as a quality exporter of wheat.

Smuggling of tea doubles

Smuggling of tea from Afghanistan to Pakistan has doubled in the first six months of the current year, rising to 12,770 tons as compared to 6,630 tons in the same period last year. According to Chairman, Pakistan Tea Association (PTA), Asghar Ali, Irani importers have bought three times more tea from Kenya during the period. Kenyan tea supply to Iran has increased to 1,528 tons this year as against 434 tons in same period last year.

"Tea is being smuggled into Pakistan from Afghanistan and Iran", the PTA chairman informed the Secretary General Finance in a communication on Monday as according to him the type of tea being imported from Kenya in Afghanistan and Iran is not being consumed locally. "We expect total tea smuggling to go upto 30,000-40,000 tons smuggled into Pakistan in 2001," he informed the finance ministry.

Minister to hold talks in US on free trade

Commerce Minister Razzak Dawood is scheduled to arrive in the United States on Sept 5 to hold talks with US Trade Representative Bob Zoellick on trade between the developed and the developing countries.

According to sources, Mr Dawood will visit Washington following negotiations in Latin America at the Uruguay round of talks on trade issues impacting the relations between the developed and the developing countries. He will be accompanied by Pakistan's chief negotiator at the World Trade Organization talks and ambassador at United Nations, Munir Akram.

Observers say that there is a large gap between the industrialized countries and the third world over the free trade issues. The third world countries maintain that the industrialized countries have not implemented the commitments made to them, thus placing them at a disadvantage.

Free trade zone planned in Gwadar

Minister for communication and railway Javed Ashraf Kazi has said that Gwadar area will be made a free trade zone and export processing zone will be set up for exporting industrial goods to Gulf which is next door from here.

In an interview with APP during his visit to the area when President Pervez Musharraf performed the ground breaking ceremony of Coastal Highway Phase-II Gwadar to Pasni on Friday, he said Coastal Development Authority under governor Balochistan will carry out the plans for realising greater Gwadar area plan.