WASHINGTON (APP): Pakistan joined the 27-member Alliance of GSP Countries in calling on the United States Senate and the House of Representatives, in a letter, for their bipartisan support to expedite legislation for the renewal of US Generalized System of Preference (GSP), a trade preference programmes through which Washington seeks to help developing countries expand their economies.

The Pakistan Ambassador to the US, Masood Khan, co-signed the letter, along with the Alliance of other 26 ambassadors, according to a press release issued by the Pakistani embassy.

“With 118th Congress in place, we hope there is a window of opportunity for bipartisan legislation renewing the Generalized System of Preference”, stated the letter written by the Alliance to the Chairperson and Ranking Members of leading legislative committees of the U.S. Congress including Foreign Affairs Committee of the Senate, Committee of Foreign Relations of House of Representatives, Senate Committee of Finance and the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives.

Pakistan is an active member of the Alliance. Other countries of the Alliance include Algeria, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia. Ecuador, Egypt, Fiji, Georgia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Moldova, Mongolia, Myanmar, North Macedonia, Nepal, Paraguay, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia, Ukraine and Yemen.

The meeting of the Alliance was hosted by Ambassador Jorge Argüello of Argentina and chaired by the Ambassador of Thailand. Ambassador Masood Khan, accompanied by Minister (Trade) Azmat Mahmood, attended the meeting.

The GSP Programme, authorized by the Trade Act of 1974, came into effect on January 1, 1976 and had been providing preferential duty-free entry to 5,000 products from 119 beneficiary developing countries (BDCs) and 44 least developed beneficiary developing countries (LDBDCs) into the U.S. market. Legal authorization for the GSP program expired on December 01, 2020.

Briefing about the initiative, Masood Khan said that renewal of US GSP Programme was critical to enhanced market access for the developing countries in the United States.

“The Programme is a conduit to ensuring robust ties with the United States bearing hallmark of strong economic sinews and currency,” he said.

“By enabling developing and the least developed countries in having better access to the US market, the Programme has not only served the beneficiary countries but has also facilitated US economy and businesses, both small and large companies, by importing products, including raw material, and maintaining comparative advantage,” he continued.

Masood Khan highlighted that COVID-19 and the war on Ukraine had impacted supply chains and resulted in food and energy shortages and consequent hyperinflation. “The renewal of the Programme would help in spurring growth in multiple sectors of the economy and thus lessen the severity of ongoing challenges,” he said.

“After devastating floods in Pakistan last year and the vast destruction of cropland, Pakistan was hoping that the United States would increase market access for its textiles and other products whose trade was directly dependent on agriculture,” the Ambassador said.

He said that many other climate-vulnerable countries were also facing similar challenges because of food and energy hyperinflation which provided compelling justification for the revival of the GSP Programme.

“Urgent re-authorization of GSP Programme has become a central piece of the trade agenda of the Alliance,” he continued.

With a bilateral trade volume of $12 billion, the United States remains the largest export market for Pakistani products. The country was among the top ten beneficiaries of the programme. Approximately 6-8% of U.S. imports from Pakistan were being made under the GSP arrangement.

“The revival of the programme would help Pakistan and the United States to realize huge existing trade potential which has remained untapped so far,” Masood Khan said.

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