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Oct 01 - 07, 2001

Washington likely to remove trade quota restrictions

The United States agreed on Tuesday to consider modalities for providing market access to Pakistani products through removal of duty and quota restrictions and for avoiding war risk insurance (WRI) on shipping to Pakistan, commerce ministry sources told.

These sources however confirmed that US Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin, who held a meeting with commerce minister Razak Dawood, did not make any commitment on these issues though she held out an assurance that she would talk to her government through proper channels. She also agreed to ensure that these issues would be on the agenda when the two sides held future talks.

"I will talk through the proper channel and try to resolve these matters as soon as possible," Ms Chamberlin was quoted as saying on three official demands relating to market access, quota restrictions and duty withdrawals on Pakistani exports.

The Pakistani side raised the issue of increase in shipping charges to Karachi and demanded that this issue should be addressed by the US administration. Though it was agreed that there was no war-like situation as yet the US administration should ensure that War Risk Insurance was not applied for shipping to Pakistan otherwise cargoes and consignments to Pakistan would be subjected to higher rates and damage trade.

Following Sept 11 events, insurance and freight charges have drastically increased and port and shipping facilities in Karachi were giving a deserted look, commerce ministry said. This meant that import and export trade would be strongly hit in the current circumstances.

The commerce minister also asked the ambassador that leather, surgical, carpets and footwear items should not be treated on a par with textile items as Pakistani exporters faced problems on export of these non-textile items.

Meat export up by 15pc

The export of meat has increased after lifting of import ban on the item by the gulf states.

According to official source, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain had already lifted ban on import of Pakistani meat and now Kuwait has withdrew its decision of banning meat import from Pakistan.

The export of local meat and its products so far reached Rs46,082.5 million this fiscal, thus showing 15 per cent overall increase as compared to Rs39,451.10 million in 1999-00.

The export of livestock products was considerably affected due to growing fear of animal disease called rinderpest. The disease was reported for the first time in Europe and it inflicted heavy losses on livestock industry of the European states.

The government directed the quarantine department, which regulates the import and export besides quarantine of animals and animal products, to check spreading of the disease.

Wheat export

A vessel to load first batch of 25,000 tons of wheat against a total export tender of 217,000 tons floated by the TCP in third week of last month had reached Karachi port on Monday, TCP sources said.

Seven private parties participated in the tender by quoting $105.5 to $106.5 per ton, and had met the condition of opening LCs within 20 days from the date of acceptance of their offers, the sources said.

After completing the shipment of these consignments, Pakistan would be consolidating its position on the world wheat market as it had already successfully made a debut by exporting around 100,000 tons of wheat to Iraq.

The first batch of 25,000 tons purchased by Peter Cremer is destined for Singapore, and its loading will be completed by Sept 30, 2001. Another vessel to load second batch of 15,000 tons fob Kenya had been purchased by Garibsons, is expected to reach Karachi port on Wednesday, Sept 26, 2001.

SBP move to boost services exports

The State Bank has allowed exporters of the services sector to retain up to 35 per cent of export earning in a foreign currency account. The move, that has come at a time when Pakistan is braving political heat generated after the September 11 terror attacks on the US soil, would help the country contain its trade deficit.

Import duty

The government is considering to raise import duty on coal from 10 to 30 per cent to encourage the local production, a reliable source in the commerce ministry told on Wednesday.

The ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources had proposed to the government to impose ban on the import of coal, as untapped coal reserves were available in a large quantity in Balochistan and Punjab, which could be dug and marketed at a much lesser cost, the source said.

Textile exporters

Exporters of textile made-ups on Wednesday sought immediate release of refunds to meet liquidity crunch created by delay in payments and cancellation of orders by foreign buyers.

Presently around Rs52 billion are held up on account of non-payment of sales tax refund and duty drawback with the government. This was stated at a joint press conference by the chairman Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) Aslam Ahmed Karsaz and vice chairman Pakistan Knitwear and Sweater Exporters Association (Paksea) Anis Marfani.

Import duty receipts fall

Revenue receipts from import duty during the first two months (July-August) of the current financial year amounted to Rs6.5 billion against Rs7.67 billion over the corresponding months of the last year, showing a fall of 15.25 per cent.

Leather garment exports crippled

The cancellation of cargo flights by European airlines originating from Karachi has crippled the exports of leather garments, which is presently at its peak season ahead of winter in the western countries.

With the revival of leather garments fashion in the West, the country last year managed to fetch over $600 million from export of leather and leather goods against a lean period witnessed a year ago.