Pakistan not to accept decisions of WTO meetings

ISLAMABAD (February 21 2003) : Pakistan has decided not to accept the decisions taken in the mini inter-ministerial meetings of World Trade Organisation (WTO), informed sources in the Commerce Ministry told Business Recorder.

The Commerce Minister, Humayun Akhtar Khan, would convey Pakistan's point of view in this regard during his meeting with Director General, WTO, Dr Supachai on Friday at Geneva.

Sources said that Pakistan is very disappointed with the fact that developed countries have not done much to give meaningful market access to our imports.

Bringing in agriculture sector and textiles within the purview of WTO has not helped Pakistan in gaining any substantial access to the developed countries' markets in these areas.

Some of the developed countries are resorting to unfair trade practices such as frequent levies of anti-dumping to protect their markets.

Pakistan hopes that during the on-going negotiations under the Doha Development Agenda these issues will be seriously addressed.

Our feedback is that so far the progress on trade negotiations has not been even.

We are concerned that in important areas such as market access for agricultural and industrial goods, special and differential treatment, implementation issues and rules relating to proper discipline on anti dumping. TRIPS and Public Health etc, there is not much progress.

Pakistan is fully committed to the WTO principles and implemented the required legislation to update our laws in line with the WTO agreements.

These include legislation relating to anti-dumping, subsidies and countervailing duties, WTO agreement on Customs valuation, TRIPS and TRIMS, etc, sources further said.

At the same time, Pakistan has taken many measures to open up its economy. In particular, tariff rates have been substantially lowered and that maximum rate of customs duty (except vehicles and edible oils) is now 25 percent.

All restrictions on imports have been removed. Import licensing has done away as well similarly there are no restrictions on exports.

Pakistan does not provide subsidies, either domestic or for exports. Not only have Pakistan opened up its markets, it does not resort to non-tariff barriers or other trade restricting measures such as anti-dumping.

The present government is committed to continue with these reforms, they added.

A WTO cell in the Ministry has been set up to do our home work, our mission here has been making positive contribution through their oral and written submissions, and by serving on the WTO Committees, he added.

In general, Pakistan is happy that the WTO is now more transparent in its working.

Although Pakistan has been positively contributing to the WTO, it is not represented in the WTO Secretariat, the sources added.

The Minister would discuss wide range of trade-related matters with DG WTO and Pakistan's point of view on various issues of WTO during his meeting, the sources added.

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