Businessmen call for direct market access

LAHORE:Business community Tuesday urged US Vice President Joseph Biden to help provide direct access to Pak products in US markets at zero duty for strengthening the economy. Founder Chairman Pak-US Business Council and VP SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Pak chapter Iftikhar Ali Malik while talking to APP here said that President US Chamber of Commerce Thomas Donohue had fully supported the longstanding demand of duty-free imports of Pak products on urgent basis.He said that US Chamber of Commerce USCC had realized the gravity of devastation caused by unprecedented floods which not only washed away the basic infrastructure but also caused damage to agriculture, livestock, fisheries, communication and industrial sectors in Pakistan.Mr Malik said the USCC Chief had also strongly urged US President Barrack Obama to help flood ravaged Pakistan by getting Congress to pass stalled legislation that would allow duty-free imports of selected Pakistani products.Iftikhar said: “Thomas Donohue in his letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and US Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in the light of flood devastation that recently struck Pakistan, stressed the crucial need to work together to secure Congress approval of the legislation on an urgent basis”.Iftikhar said that during his last meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Pakistan, she was urged to provide direct market access to Pak products on zero duty to help stabilize its bleak economy which suffered irreparable loss in the war on terror and due to superfloods.

The ROZ programme aims to create jobs in Pakistan and Afghanistan by providing duty-free access to the US for certain goods made in approved zones within two countries.Extending duty-free treatment to cotton trousers and shirts which account for about two thirds of Pakistan’s apparel exports to the US but only import—would not hurt textile producers but boost US investment in that sector,the letter said.Pakistan’s biggest exports to the US are cotton clothing and household goods. Those items accounted for $2,4b of its total exports of $3.2b to the US last year.Iftikhar Ali Malik said: “ Pakistan has already suffered overall an irreparable colossal loss of over $ 3.50 trillion including $ 1.6 trillion to its economic sector in the aftermath of 9/11 debacle, war on terrorism, turmoil in Afghanistan and catrosphic heaved by the flash floods”,he said.He said there is a vast scope for US private investors in every sector, particularly in the agro-power and IT sectors, adding that the US Chamber of Commerce (USCC) can play a pivotal role in promoting bilateral trade relations. “Pakistan is an emerging market rich in opportunities for American investment, while the US is already an important trading partner – APP