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ISLAMABAD: Indonesia has agreed to expand the quota and period for import of fruits from Pakistan under the preferential trade agreement, an official told Dawn on Thursday.

Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia have dropped by almost $100 million ever since the implementation of preferential trade agreement (PTA), whereas, Indonesia’s exports have almost doubled during the post preferential treaty.

Both sides have held three rounds to review the implementation of the PTA. At the conclusion of the third round held recently, Indonesia has agreed to allow imports of Pakistani kinno (mandarin oranges) from December until April.

Previously, they were allowed only from January to April.

Indonesia will also increase Pakistan’s quota in imports of fresh fruits, allowing imports of mangoes from May until October, which makes Pakistan the only country to be given such permission.

An official source said Pakistan has already comprehensively conveyed its concerns regarding unfavourable implementation of the PTA in the last two review meetings.

“Indonesia acknowledged the concerns raised by Pakistan and agreed to reduce the tariff to zero on two tariff lines of textiles, knitted and woven fabric, which the Pakistani side had demanded in the first review meeting,” the official said.

According to the official, the Indonesian government agreed to advise the relevant Ministry, and agency to import more broken rice from Pakistan. Indonesia also agreed to co-ordinate with the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture, to start the site pre-inspections and certification of halal procedures regarding imports of meat and meat products from Pakistan.

Pakistan has requested Indonesia allow inclusion of 20 items in the PTA unilaterally to which it agreed to give positive consideration. Both sides also agreed to form a Joint Negotiation Committee to discuss further deepening and expansion of the preferential treaty.

Indonesia would send a trade delegation to Pakistan during Expo Pakistan, which is scheduled to be held from November 9 to 12, 2017 in Karachi. These measures are likely to increase Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia, which will help in reducing the negative trade balance between the two courtiers, the official claimed.

Pakistan’s commercial attaché to Indonesia, Muhammad Usman, told Dawn that these positive outcomes are a result of effective lobbying done by the Embassy of Pakistan in Jakarta. He said the embassy conveyed the dis-satisfaction of Pakistan at all levels of the Indonesian government.

Mr Usman said the announcements by the Indonesian government can be a good start to bring much needed balance in bilateral trade. It is important that Kinnow and Mango exporters take advantage of the huge Indonesian market, which has now been opened for them.

Additionally, knitted and woven fabric exporters can also take advantage of zero duty offered to Pakistan. If all the concessions given to Pakistan are availed, Pakistan’s exports to Indonesia are likely to increase by $ 100m in ongoing financial year, the commercial attaché claimed.

In the last PTA review, Pakistan’s delegation was led by Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce Taimur Tajammal, while Indonesian delegation was headed by Iman Pambagyo, Director General, International Trade Negotiation, Ministry of Trade, Indonesia. The meeting was held on August 10-11 in Jakarta.

Published in Dawn, August 25th, 2017