USA should provide duty free access Pakistani textile products – Mian Shaukat Masud

  • June 23, 2009
Pakistan’s textile industry was already in deep troubles and its survival would be further endangered if the bill introduced in the US Senate in May 2009 for granting duty-free entry to textiles of 14 least developed countries (LDCs) was enacted. This was said by Mian Shaukat Masud, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) in a statement. He called upon the government to immediately take up this issue with US authorities to save domestic textile industry from destruction as US was the major exporter of our textile products. The bill moved by Senators Dianne Feinstein of Democrat and Kit Bond of Republican on May 21 proposed to offer duty free access to textile products of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Kiribati, Laos, Maldives, Nepal, Samoa, Solomon Islands, East Timor, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Yemen. 

Mian Shaukat Masud questioned the logic of moving this bill with main objective to contain the growth of extremism in these countries by creating job opportunities while Pakistan being the biggest victim of militancy and extremism after Afghanistan was left out from the list of beneficiaries. He said since Pakistan happened to be severely affected by war on terror it deserved much better access to American market for its products and added that such double standards of USA would create more trust deficit in our people including business community. He said Pakistan’s textile products were already facing stiff competition from Bangladesh and Bandladesh’s duty free access to US markets will unleash new challenges for our textile industry.

ICCI President said due to unfavorable conditions, the textile sector had closed around 350 factories in two years eliminating hundreds of thousands of jobs while 90 big textile units had closed in 2008 alone. He said government should come up with special relief packages for the revival of textile industry and to bring some sort of stability in the dwindling economy. He further stressed upon the need of taking up with US authorities the issue of implementation of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) project in NWFP as this bill was lying pending for the last many years for approval of US Congress. He said fast-tract implementation of ROZs project was essential to create employment opportunities in post-war period in war-hit areas so that people of militancy-affected tribal areas could be engaged in gainful production activities.