Pakistan edges closer to EU duty waiver -diplomat

Thu May 26, 2011 11:56am GMT
 

GENEVA May 26 (Reuters) - Pakistani textile makers edged closer on Thursday to boosting exports to Europe after one of its opponents withdrew its objections, the country's ambassador said on Thursday.

But India, whose exporters compete with Pakistan for a share of the world's largest market, still opposes an EU proposal to suspend duties temporarily on certain Pakistani goods to help the country recover from last summer's devastating floods.

"Vietnam has approved the EU duty waiver today. We are one step closer," Shahid Bashir, Pakistan's ambassador to the World Trade Organization, told Reuters as he left a meeting that had considered the plan.

India has so far led opposition with support from Vietnam and Peru. Trade officials said it was likely Peru would also drop its reservations.

Relations between India and Pakistan have been thawing in recent months, leading diplomats from several countries to suggest India might make a political conciliatory gesture by allowing Pakistan preferential trade with Europe.

An original EU plan unveiled last October said duty suspensions -- if approved unanimously by the WTO -- would affect about 900 million euros ($1.27 billion) worth of Pakistani exports to the EU and estimated Pakistan could boost sales to the EU by 100 million euros. The plan would affect mainly textile but also ethanol exports. [ID:nLDE69622J]

Cotton and textile account for about two-thirds of Pakistan's exports, and the textile industry is the main driver of the economy.

(Reporting by Juliane von Reppert-Bismarck; Editing by Barbara Lewis and Myra MacDonald)

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