Traders search for alternatives amid India-Pakistani standoff

In this file photo, the first vehicle crosses the bridge which connects Indian-Administrated Kashmir and Pakistan-Administrated Kashmir during cross-border trade at Kaman Post, 118km (73 miles) north of Srinagar, Oct. 21, 2008. (REUTERS)
Updated 07 March 2019
0

Traders search for alternatives amid India-Pakistani standoff

  • Businessmen say they prefer to look at newer options instead
  • Says New Delhi stands to lose more than Islamabad if economic limitations continue

LAHORE: With the cessation of bilateral trade between Pakistan and India due to an ongoing escalation along the border, leading business houses said they were now contemplating a deal with the US, Afghanistan and Central Asia instead.
“Pakistan has cheaper options available for major import of cotton from the US” while cement exporters tend to look for Afghanistan and Central Asian destinations besides supplying for local consumption to meet the growing demand within the country, said Anisul Haq, secretary general of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Punjab on Wednesday. 
If the two countries wish to benefit from direct trade through Wagah, the trade has to be on a level playing field to reap dividends of close proximity and cheaper goods requiring lesser time to deliver consignments, Haq told Arab News. “We do not encourage a reroute of trade through other channels like the Afghan Transit Trade.” 
Pakistan’s total trade volume from India, during 2017-18, stands at $2,412.80 million, including total imports worth $1,924.28 million and exports at $488.52 million, according to documents available with Arab News. The major imports from India include cotton, organic chemicals, dyes and chemicals, machinery, raw material for pharmaceuticals, etc., while major exports to India include cement, gypsum, edible and citrus fruits, mineral fuels and oils.
Following the February 14 attack on Indian troops in the Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir, New Delhi had withdrawn the Most-Favored Nation (MFN) status from Islamabad and imposed a 200 percent import duty on Pakistani goods. The unilateral move by India virtually brought all bilateral trade to a halt and truckloads of cement were seen parked inside the Wagah border and returned later.
Younas Dhaga, Secretary to Ministry of Commerce, told Arab News that Pakistan would stick to its stance whereby the Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Razak Dawood had said he would raise the issue of India withdrawing the MFN status at the international forum of the World Trade Organization (WTO) if the stalemate continues.
According to the State Bank of Pakistan’s annual report 2017-18, “The cotton production marked an increase from 10.7 million bales last year to 11.9 million bales in FY18. Yet, cotton production not only missed the target of 13.6 million bales, but also stood lower than the textile industry’s need of 13.2 million bales.”


US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

Updated 10 min 10 sec ago
0

US wins WTO ruling against China grain import quotas

GENEVA: The United States won a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling on Thursday against China’s use of tariff-rate quotas for rice, wheat and corn, which it successfully argued limited market access for US grain exports.
The case, lodged by the Obama administration in late 2016, marked the second US victory in as many months. It came amid US-China trade talks and on the heels of Washington clinching a WTO ruling on China’s price support for grains in March.
A WTO dispute panel ruled on Thursday that under the terms of its 2001 WTO accession, China’s administration of the tariff rate quotas (TRQs) as a whole violated its obligation to administer them on a “transparent, predictable and fair basis.”
TRQs are two-level tariffs, with a limited volume of imports allowed at the lower ‘in-quota’ tariff and subsequent imports charged an “out-of-quota” tariff, which is usually much higher.
The administration of state trading enterprises and non-state enterprises’ portions of TRQs are inconsistent with WTO rules, the panel said.
Australia, Brazil, India, and the European Union were among those reserving their rights in the dispute brought by the world’s largest grain exporter.
In a statement, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue welcomed the decision, saying China’s system “ultimately inhibits TRQs from filling, denying US farmers access to China’s market for grain.”
If China’s TRQs had been fully used, $3.5 billion worth of corn, wheat and rice would have been imported in 2015 alone, it said, citing US Department of Agriculture estimates.
The two WTO rulings would help American farmers “compete on a more level playing field,” the USTR statement said, adding: “The (Trump) Administration will continue to press China to promptly come into compliance with its WTO obligations.”
The latest WTO panel said that the United States had not proven all of its case, failing to show that China had violated its public notice obligation under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) in respect to TRQs.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Friday it “regrets” the panel’s decision and that it would “earnestly evaluate” the panel’s report.
China would “handle the matter appropriately in accordance with WTO dispute resolution procedures, actively safeguard the stability of the multilateral trading system and continue to administer the relevant agricultural import tariff quotas in compliance with WTO rules,” it said.
Either side can appeal the ruling within 60 days.