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Sep 29, 2011, 03.47 PM IST | Source: PTI

EU welcomes India allowing WTO waiver for Pakistan

The European Union today welcomed India's decision to withdraw its objections to the World Trade Organisation waiver sought by the EU for granting duty-free access to certain goods from Pakistan.

EU welcomes India allowing WTO waiver for Pakistan

The European Union today welcomed India's decision to withdraw its objections to the World Trade Organisation waiver sought by the EU for granting duty-free access to certain goods from Pakistan.

The EU described New Delhi's decision, announced yesterday following bilateral trade talks between India and Pakistan, as "very positive". The head of the European Union delegation to Pakistan, Ambassador Lars-Gunnar Wigemark, said the decision was "relevant in light of the renewed floods in the province of Sindh".

The WTO waiver granting unilateral trade concessions to Pakistan was originally sought by the EU to provide relief after devastating floods in India's neighbouring country last year.

The 75 products on which duties are proposed to be waived accounted for about 27 per cent of Pakistan's exports to the EU last year, with their value amounting to almost 900 million euros out of the EU's total imports of goods worth 3.3 billion euros from Pakistan.

Liberalising these 75 tariff lines -- of which one product (ethanol) would be granted a waiver subject to an annual quota of 80,000 tonnes, based on past imports -- would result in an increase in the EU's imports from Pakistan by an estimated 100 million euros a year, in comparison to 2009.

The EU will receive nearly 80 million euros less in tariff revenues as a result of these trade concessions, a statement said.  The EU will now re-launch the process in the WTO for formalisation of the waiver. Simultaneously, the EU will press ahead with internal legislative processes in the European Parliament and Council for ratification of the proposed regulations granting these
trade preferences to Pakistan by member states. 

The next meeting of the WTO Council for Trade in Goods is scheduled on November 7 and a formal decision should be possible at the next WTO General Council meeting in the beginning of December. "If all goes well, the preferences would be in place by early 2012," the statement said.

The EU is Pakistan's largest trading partner, with their annual trade valued at 7.6 billion euros. The trade balance is already in favour of Pakistan, whose
main export items to the EU are textiles and clothing products, accounting for over 60% of all exports.

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