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 5. TRADE  6. GULF



Jan 21 - 27, 2002

Steel pipe export to Sri Lanka declines

Pakistan's steel pipe exports to Sri Lanka have declined to between $1.5-2 million in the last one year from $5-6 million as a consequence of a free trade agreement signed by the Sri Lankan government with India in early 2001.

As a result of the free trade agreement, Sri Lanka has slashed the customs duty on its imports of G.I. pipes and rectangular and square tubes from India to a mere four per cent from the previous 14 per cent. The importers of Pakistani pipes still have to pay a duty of 14 per cent due to the absence of a free trade agreement, Mian Shafqat Ali, leading steel pipes producer and exporter, told on Tuesday.

He said the "reduction in the customs duty on the Indian pipes had given the Indians a price advantage of close to $40 per ton". Pakistan exports steel pipes to Sri Lanka and other nations at an f.o.b. price of $400 per ton the international rate with a $5-10 per ton difference. "The Sri Lankan importers are ready to pay us a premium of five per cent on our products due to our superior quality," Mian Shafqat asserted. "A free trade agreement with Sri Lanka in the near future can help us regain our lost market share there," he said.

Pakistan's annual exports of steel pipes rectangular/square tubes used in furniture and windows, G.I. pipes used for domestic water and gas lines, and high pressure pipes used by the industry and gas and oil companies stands around $10 million. Importing countries include Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, US, UAE, UK, Australia, etc.

Only two manufacturers of steel pipes International Industries Ltd in Karachi, and Ramna Pipe and General Mills in Lahore are in the export business.

The global export market of the steel pipes is stated to be close to $27 billion a year with the US, Western Europe, Australia, and Japan being the biggest importers. Major exporting nations include Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and India.

Wheat export subsidy on cards

The government has decided to provide subsidy on export of wheat and wheat products to private sector for disposing of about 2 million surplus wheat stocks.

A senior official in the commerce ministry told that a suitable export subsidy on export of wheat and wheat products through sea ports was under way.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture and Livestock (MINFAL) had already recommended to the government to export surplus wheat latest by April 30, 2002.

The MINFAL in its report said that since sizeable surplus was available and new wheat crop would start arriving in April 2002 disposal of surplus was utmost necessary.

The government has targeted to export 1.5 million tons wheat till April 4, 2002 by private sector, TCP and Pakistan Agriculture Storage and Supply Corporation (PASSCO).

ATT import value falls by 46.2pc in Dec

The import value of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) fell by 46.21 per cent to Rs492 million in December of the current financial year against Rs914.783 million during the same month last year.

Official figures made available on Wednesday showed that the total import value of ATT in the first six months of the current financial year declined by 21.14 per cent to Rs4.14 billion against Rs5.25 billion over the corresponding months of last year.

Official sources told that following the US-led attacks on Afghanistan, the import value of the ATT came to a standstill. Moreover, the Afghan importers were reluctant to take their goods into Afghanistan on the plea that it was not safe.

The Afghan importers had also sought permission from the Pakistani government to allow them to clear their goods in Pakistan while paying full taxes.

Trade with CAR, Afghanistan

Federal government's decision allowing export of 18 more items through land route from NWFP to Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs) has apparently failed to satisfy the NWFP trade and business circles, as they stick to their demand of total withdrawal of restrictions on trade through land from this part of the country to CARs. Export of a total of 32 items is allowed from NWFP to Afghanistan and CARs.

Rice traders fail to strike deal with Iran

For the second time in two years, an Iranian delegation that came to buy Irri-9 and Basmati varieties of rice from local market left Pakistan empty-handed as traders were unable to guarantee a steady supply.

The five-member Iranian delegation, led by the managing director Government Trading Corporation (GTC) Mujtaba Ansari, wanted to purchase 15,000 tons of Irri-9 and same quantity of Basmati but were disappointed.

About two years ago Iranians sought 70,000 tons of Irri-9 but Pakistani exporters expressed their inability to meet the import demand.

Trade sustains Sept 11 shock but fears loom

Although the external trade had sustained the shocks of September 11 and its aftermath, the worse was yet to come as uncertainty still prevailed, industry sources said on Saturday.

Government officials had feared a shortfall of over one billion dollars in $10.1 billion export target as a consequence of the terror attacks in the United States. However, Pakistan's exports of 4.45 billion dollars for the first six months of fiscal 2001-02 year were better than expected.