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Dastgir’s quest for US grant of GSP shows positive signs

Dastgir’s quest for US grant of GSP shows positive signs

WASHINGTON DC: In a briefing to US media Pakistan’s Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir has said that Pakistan qualified for EU’s grant of GSP Plus “on merit and we want the same arrangement with the US, also on merit.”

The commerce minister said, “The US government is keen to help us and we have sympathisers on the Capitol Hill as well.”

“GSP is good but we want a GSP Plus arrangement, the same that we have with the European Union,” Dastgir said, adding that the US response was very positive.

Pakistan seeks the same arrangement for preferential trade with the US that it has with the European Union.

He said that Pakistan had joined an alliance of 20 nations to lobby for it. “We are working with the alliance and we hope that Congress will re-authorise the General System of Preferences (GSP) status for all of us.”

The 20 nations enjoyed the GSP status till July 2013, when it expired and the Congress did not re-authorise it. The GSP is a programme designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

In December last year, the European Union granted GSP Plus status to Pakistan, allowing almost 20 per cent of Pakistani exports to enter the EU market at zero tariff and 70 per cent at preferential rates.

The minister said the United States and Pakistan were also exploring the possibility of concluding a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT).

In February, the United States proposed a new template for BIT talks, as the old template lapsed in 2012. Pakistan has some reservations on the non-conforming measures in the proposed template.

The Strategic Plans Division and the Pakistani military have also raised objections over the insertion of security-related clauses in the draft of the treaty.

“We will soon be sending a detailed non-paper, spelling out our reservations on the new template,” Dastgir said.