KARACHI, Feb 1: Kara Babrowski, economic officer at the US Consulate in Karachi, has said that the US government cannot provide duty-free access to Pakistani textiles.

The US official stated this  during his visit to the Towel Manufacturers Association (TMA) here on Thursday at TMA House.

The members of the association pointed out that the impact on allowing zero duty would be negligible because duty collection on export of terry towels and allied products of around $736 million from Pakistan to US hardly comes to around to $67 million per annum.

TMA chairman Mehtab Uddin Chawla said that the business community of Pakistan prefers trade over aid and this is a win-win situation for both the countries because by opening up trade opportunities, Pakistani youth would get jobs which would help reduce terrorism.

He further said that under Kerry Lugar Bill, the US is providing $1.5 billion assistance per annum to Pakistan but in case duty free market access was allowed to textiles, it would cost much less to US people.

However, Babrowski insisted that this could not be done because if duty free excess was allowed to textiles, other sectors would also demand such preference and it would be difficult for the US to meet.

She further said that US is already extending assistance to Pakistan under Kerry Lugar Bill to the tune of $1.5 billion per annum and there was little possibility of any change in policy at this stage.

When her attention was drawn towards European Union (EU) policy of allowing market access to Pakistani products and expected GSP plus status next year, the US official replied that all such developments are known to the State Department but there could be no change in policy, particularly when Kerry Lugar bill had already been passed.

Mr Chawla said the LDC status given to Bangladesh is damaging Pakistani interests because it has become our major competitor in textiles.

But the most damaging to country’s interest, he said, was the US travel advisory which has damaged the image and no buyer is visiting Pakistan.

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