Daily Times, Pakistan
1 September 2004
Market access unlikely to be increased
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: In talks scheduled to be held with the US on September 30, Pakistan is unlikely to succeed in having market access increased or the travel advisory imposed by US after 9/11 removed, a commerce ministry official told Daily Times.
Talks are to be held under the Trade Investment Facilitation Agreement) (TIFA) which was signed on June 25, 2003 during the visit of President Pervez Musharraf to the US. The official said the timing of the talks is the first point going against Pakistan.
“This is a lame duck period in the US because of the ongoing US Presidential election campaign,” the official said. “The Bush administration is not in a position to give the required relief to Pakistan particularly when there is a fifty-fifty chance of election of both presidential candidates.” The official also said that William Lash, US Assistant Commerce Secretary met recently with the commerce secretary and Humayun Akhtar Khan but did not give any hint that the travel advisory would be lifted.
“The USTR (United State Trade Representative) can just recommend that the travel advisory be lifted, but it is the US Department of Homeland Security, which would take the final decision keeping in view the law and order situation in Pakistan,” the official said.
About the long standing demand of raising market access for Pakistani products in the US particularly textile products, the official said that the southern states of the US are also rich in the textile sector are exerting pressure on USTR not to give any market access in textile sector to Pakistan, fearing damage to their own textile industry. The official claimed the only success during the visit would be the inking of the BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaty) which would help build the confidence of US companies which intend to invest in Pakistan.
The official said that Pakistan would be criticized by the USTR during the TIFA talks on the issue of non-implementation of intellectual property rights, owing to which American companies are suffering massive financial losses.