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Pakistan to buy Nepali tea, drugs under FTA

Gorkhapatra, Nepal

Pakistan to buy Nepali tea, drugs under FTA

January 6 2005

By Our Correspondent:

KATHMANDU, Jan 6: Pakistani ambassador to Nepal Zamir Akram said Thursday that Nepal and Pakistan were looking forward to sign a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) to boost trade between the two countries.

“Pakistan has provided duty free access to Nepalese tea in Pakistan as an indication of Pakistan’s willingness to enter into the FTA with Nepal,” Akram told a programme organised by the Confederation of Nepalese Industries (CNI).

Recounting the visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Saukat Aziz to Nepal last November, the Pakistani envoy said that the visit was important in bringing the two countries closer in extending economic cooperation.

He said that he had been holding regular interactions with Nepal’s business community as per the idea shared by Aziz during his visit to Nepal for expanding trade between the two countries.

He said that Pakistan was a very good market for Nepalese tea producers since the quantity of annual consumption of tea in Nepal is consumed within two months in Pakistan. “The export tea to Pakistan would benefit Nepal’s trade though the total benefit in terms of ratio might appear to be small,” he said.

He also hinted that Pakistan was ready to provide duty concession to Nepalese pharmaceutical products as per the progress achieved towards bilateral FTA. The price of drugs is lower in Nepal than in Pakistan.

Indicating the potential for joint ventures, he said the two countries could forge a partnership in sectors such as textiles, pharmaceuticals, leather goods, surgical equipment, banking, insurance and tourism.

The Pakistani envoy said that the promotion of tourist destinations in both the countries could bring handsome dividends. “There could be a single package for promoting himalayan tourism as both countries share the himalaya, and religious tourism as both the countries have preserved ancient Buddhist sculptures,” he said.

To a query on the possibility of building road links between the two countries, the absence of which has lowered the trade volume that stands at a mere Rs 500 million, Akram said an alternative was worth mulling, but it should be commercially viable.

“The road link through Chinese territory and the situation after the implementation of the SAFTA would prove a viable alternative,” he said.

Binod Chaudhary, president of the CNI said that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) was assessing the potentiality of cargo flights between Nepal and Pakistan.

He said that there were many potentialities to be exploited between two countries. “For this joint efforts from both sides are necessary.

Vice president of the CNI, Rajendra Khetan, said that the SAARC countries had been preparing a long list of trade items to be placed under the negative category so that higher duty could be imposed.

“The list can be made shorter through bilateral agreements.”

Akram said that an international trade exhibition ‘Expo Pakistan’ is going to be held in Karachi from February 2-5.

He said that he was expecting a large number of business delegates at the expo.

According to him, there would be participation from 80-90 countries, including Nepal. Information tehichnology, industrial goods, home decorative goods, automobile and auto parts, surgical and pharmaceutical products, food and ingredients, fabric and apparels, sporting goods and gems and jewelry will be on exbition at the expo.