Greater Market Access for Pakistani Textiles
New York : Senior American trade officials Tuesday pledged to work towards greater market access for Pakistani textile products in the United States and to advance bilateral trade and economic ties.
They also hoped for early finalization of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) legislation aimed at facilitating job creation and economic development in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.
" Pakistan is open for business," Gail Strickler, Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) of Textiles, told a large delegation of Pakistani textile exporters at a reception her office held for them and a number of leading US textile apparels buyers.
The Pakistani delegation was led by Mirza Ikhtiaq Baig, Adviser on Textile to the Government of Pakistan.
The reception where Pakistani exporters and some key US importers met, was part of Texworld, a trade fair for apparels, held in the United States for the first time. Top Pakistani textile products manufacturing companies set up their stalls in the week-long exhibition, along with those of other nations.
Ms. Strickler said USTR would make every effort to help Pakistani manufacturers in facilitating their exports and even to improve the quality of their products.
Paul Jones, Deputy USTR, said that improving market access for Pakistani products was part of the Strategic Dialogue between the US and Pakistan. "Better economic cooperation and development would melt away the trust deficit" between the two countries.
Michael Delaney, Assistant USTR for South Central Asia, said that creation of jobs through economic development was the best weapon to fight militancy. He said ROZs would help improve the lives of the people in Pakistan's border areas.
In his speech, Miza Ikhtiar Baig gave a detailed background of Pakistan's textile industry, which he said contributed 8.5 percent of the GDP. Pakistan is the world's fourth largest producer of raw cotton and it contributed 53 percent of the country's exports.
He acknowledged that the security situation in Pakistan presented some difficulties but by and large the country was stable. "I can say with full authority that not a single order has been canceled by any Pakistani company due to the present situation in Pakistan."
Pakistan needed market access to to its textile products at concessional tariff, Baig said. "Our lead time is about 30 days, we have composite integrated units from spinning to finished goods," he said as he spoke of the top-of-the-line machinery in factories.
Pakistan attracted an investment of $3,7 billion in the last financial year, a large chunk from the US, Baig said. He called for more investment to help Pakistan defray the huge cost it is incurring in battling insurgency.
"We are not interested in aid; we're interested in trade," Baig said as a loud applause rang out.