Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bangladesh to withdraw complaints against Pakistan in European Union

SALEEM SAMAD

BANGLADESH IS considering withdrawing a complaint on Thursday about a European Union move to grant beneficial import conditions to Pakistan textile producers as an aid measures following floods last year.

Bangladesh competes with Pakistan has raised concerns last week about the impact of the European measures, which would make it easier for Pakistan to export textiles to Europe.

Europe and Pakistan had expected a long-announced plan for trade preferences for textile makers to be approved during a meeting of trade diplomats in Geneva this week, but a Bangladeshi complaint halted the move.

Pakistan was being granted the beneficial import conditions as an aid measure following devastating floods last year.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mohamed Mijarul Quayes confirmed that it would withdraw the complaints in Geneva.

Expressing concern Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar said Islamabad called Dhaka’s objections to the beneficial import conditions “an accident”.

Meanwhile the chairman of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Mohsin Aziz said on Wednesday that the objections raised by Bangladesh about Pakistan on the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP)-plus status in the European Union market are unfounded and said that Pakistan could never be a threat to the Bangladesh textile industry in the EU market.

He justified Pakistan’s qualification for market access to the EU on grounds of humanity, comparing it to Bangladesh after being hit severely hit by natural calamities and terrorism.

The two-year cut in tariffs offered by the EU would be a small boost for Pakistan’s exporters. As a least developed country, Bangladesh enjoys quota and duty-free access to EU countries, unlike Pakistan.

Bangladesh exports to the EU have reached $16 billion in the textile sector presently from merely $2 billion a few years back. Pakistan has peaked to a mere $1.5 billion in a market of $80 billion.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com