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ICCI seeks PTA/FTA with Canada to enhance exports

Daily Times, Pakistan

ICCI seeks PTA/FTA with Canada to enhance exports

Staff Report

8 March 2008

ISLAMABAD: President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Ijaz Abbasi on Friday stressed the need for Free Trade Agreement or Preferential Trade Agreement (FTA/PTA) between Pakistan and Canada for increasing bilateral trade as at present Pakistani exports to Canada are very low.

He expressed these views during a meeting with Anwar (Andy) Merchant, President Pak-Canada Business Council here on Friday.

ICCI chief said the over all trade volume between Pakistan and Canada was $696 million, whereas Pakistani export’s share was only $201 million. He said that Pakistan’s less exports to Canada were due to unfavorable market access conditions for Pakistan vis-a-vis some of its competitors that have been capitalising on duty and quota free export concessions since January 2003 under Canadian market access initiative for Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

He added that Canadian government’s decision of granting duty and quota free access to LDCs was primarily geared towards helping African countries. Such concession in turn badly affected textile-producing countries of Asia that were direct competitors to Pakistan, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.

Abbasi said both countries had good bilateral trade and economic relations, which still needed to be expanded. Pakistan is full of natural resources and Canada through investment in export-oriented industries, could help boost Pakistan’s exports.

The ICCI chief appreciated the role of Pak-Canada Business Council in increasing the two-way trade activities. He said that with the efforts of the Council, trade and investment opportunities between the two countries are gradually increasing. Canada had tremendous expertise in telecommunications, IT, mining, pharmaceuticals, bio-technology and education sector, so he asked assistance of Council for Canadian collaboration with Pakistan in these sectors.

He said that 75 percent of Pakistan’s exports to Canada were textiles and clothing although Canada had given preferences to Pakistan only on 55 items under its Generalised Trade Preferences.

Speaking on the occasion Anwar (Andy) said the Council was acting as a bridge in building strong trade and economic relations between the two countries. He said that Canada is interested for investment in energy, transportation, food and auto industry.