KARACHI: The Employers’ Federation of Pakistan (EFP) has asked the government to take private sector in confidence before signing a preferential trade agreement (PTA) with Turkiye.

“Without any deliberation from the private sector, the agreement is bound to create uncertainty for Pakistan’s industries and economic outlook. The country can no longer afford to have trade agreements that would prove unfavourable for local industries and result in a sharp rise in the country’s import bill,” the federation said in a statement on Monday.

Expressing concerns about Pakistan’s expected PTA to be signed with Turkiye on Aug 12, EFP Chairman Ismail Suttur said Islamabad has agreed to give duty exemptions to Ankara on almost 220 products, whereas around 120 Pakistani products will get duty waivers. The Ministry of Commerce has failed to reach out to the private sector for consultations on the PTA, he added.

“Without consultations with the private sector, the PTA could prove to be counter-productive for Pakistan’s economy.” The statement quoted Mr Suttur as saying, “Pakistan was never able to realise the true potential of the agreement, whereas China was able to export a considerably higher volume of products to Pakistan, thereby worsening the country’s balance of payments (BOP) position.”

He said the commerce ministry has not reached out to the private sector nor the apex bodies—EFP and FPCCI—representing the private sector in Pakistan. The EFP chief said that several Pakistan-based companies may be negatively affected as a result of this PTA as their products may become uncompetitive as compared to Turkish products that would enjoy duty exemptions.

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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