Talks with Turkey on list of Trade-able items

ISLAMABAD: Ahead of the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Turkey, top officials of Pakistan and Turkey will assemble in Ankara to break the deadlock over a bila-teral trade agreement despite a lapse of around 10 years.

A high-level technical delegation will leave early next week for Turkey to start crucial talks scheduled for Sept 11-12 to sort out differences on tradable items lists and other modalities of the treaty.

This meeting will be followed by a visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who will be accompanied by a business delegation in the middle of the current month.

The date for the premier’s visit is yet to be finalised, an official in the commerce ministry said. Both the sides had launched talks on the preferential trade agreement in 2004, but could not develop consensus over modalities and lists of items for trading between the two nations despite having good political relations.

So far four rounds of technical level meetings have been held on the PTA without any substantial progress. An official in the commerce ministry told Dawn that the two countries have already exchanged lists of tradable items.

However, no concrete understanding had been reached over these items to be considered for duty reduction.

Experts say Turkey wants to offer only those items on the concessional list under the proposed PTA which were already at lower rates or were exempted from duty and taxes.

It is also reluctant to offer real cut in duty of those items which are of interest to Pakistan, especially the textile and clothing products.

Pakistan is, however, asking for placement of those products on the concessional list which attract more than 15pc duty at the import stage.

According to experts, Turkey has nominal things in the basket to offer for duty reduction because of Ankara customs union agreement with European Union on the manufacturing products.

Turkey is also reluctant to offer maximum on agriculture products because of protection to local producers.In the non-tariff areas, there is potential for elimination of non-tariff barriers for each other, reciprocal participation in trade fairs and exhibitions and organising trade delegation programmes.

Both the sides have the potential to explore possibilities of investment opportunities in the fields of defence industry, food processing and packing, automotive industry and auto parts, household appliances, construction material, textiles, leather machinery and finished products, sports goods and surgical instruments.

The Turkish businessmen may also be invited for investment in Pakistan export processing zones and agriculture export processing zones.

Both sides can also explore the possibility of setting up a regular shipping line between Karachi and Istanbul.

Pakistan could seek market access for rice, vegetables, some processed food and fisheries to Turkey.

Pakistan can also seek market access for skilled and un-skilled labour, or commercial presence of Pakistani service providers in the Turkish market.

Source: The DAWN