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News Clips 18 February, 2015

[ Prgmea Chairman urges Prime Minister to take up SMD issue with Turkish PM ]
[ Sustainable growth & productivity: Textile ministry set to introduce new legislation ]
[ Pakistan, Turkey ink 11 accords ]
[ Pakistan values its ties with EU: Nawaz EU delegation, UK minister meet PM ]

Prgmea Chairman urges Prime Minister to take up SMD issue with Turkish PM   [ top ]

Business Recorder, February 18, 2015
Garments exporters on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to help convince his Turkish counterpart, Ahmet Davutoglu, to waive 'Safeguard Measures Duty' (SMD) of 42.2 percent which Turkey has placed on Pakistan's apparel imports.

Talking to Business Recorder, the Chairman of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PRGMEA), Ijaz A Khokhar, said that Turkey had placed the extra Customs Duty on apparel imports from Pakistan, hampering mutual trade growth.

"We request to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to bring the SMD issue in discussion with his Turkish counterpart who is on a visit to Islamabad as both countries are agreeing on economic and trade co-operation in different fields and textile should not be spared," he appealed.

He said that Pakistani garments exports to Turkey had never posed a threat to its local industrial growth and the SMD was an additional Customs levy that caused a big financial trouble to Pakistani exporters and Turkish importers as well.

"The original Customs Duty is 9.2 percent on garment products, including denim, marshal arts uniforms and home-textiles but 42.2 percent SMD increased the levy to 52 percent which is too high to afford on the world market," Khokhar said.

Similarly, Pakistani fabric exporters pay 35 percent total Customs Duty with additional 28.6 percent SMD at the import stage in Turkey, he said, adding that the higher duties should be brought to the original size to help augment both nations' mutual trade.

"Turkey has no threats from Pakistan garments since it manufactures 95 percent of fashion and casual wears," he said and reiterated his appeal to the Pakistani premier to step up to resolve the high duty regime in Turkey.

The abolition of SMD will help Pakistani exporters reach Central Asian and Eastern European nations with their garment goods besides taking its trade with Turkey to a billion dollar, which stands at around $500-600 million, the Prgmea chairman said.

Sustainable growth & productivity: Textile ministry set to introduce new legislation   [ top ]

Business Recorder, February 17, 2015
The Ministry of Textile Industry is all set to introduce new legislation, pending for last six years to undo multiple overlapping laws and ordinances, it is learnt. Official sources revealed to Business Recorder that work on the final draft of the proposed Act has already been completed in consultation with industry stakeholders, which would be submitted to the Law Division for vetting soon.

The proposed Act would be discussed in the upcoming textile policy board meeting after which it would be sent to the Law division. Federal Textile Board has been restructured and notified to facilitate the textile sector stakeholders. The platform will be used to monitor the implementation of Textile Policy (2014-19), including rationalisation of cess/surcharges applicable to the textile value chain industry and its exports, utilisation. The Research, Development and Advisory (RDA) Cell will act as secretariat of the board and existing RDA Cell officers will be responsible for the overall implementation and monitoring of Textile Policy.

The proposed law would empower the ministry to form regulations and standards for achieving sustainable growth, increase productivity and value addition throughout the textile chain. It will be the first-ever law pertaining to the textile industry, which will empower textile division to take final decision on every issue. Presently, the ministry has no power and can not even issue an SRO.

Sources said the proposed textile law would require all the functioning textile units to register themselves with the ministry as only registered textile units would get incentives announced in the textile policy. Currently, textile ministry lacks complete information about the textile units and their production data to make appropriate plans regarding the implementation of textile policy. The new legislation aims at implementing the textile policy, strengthening the structure of textile industries and to maintain complete data on production of these units.

Presently, there is no textile export and import law in the country. In the proposed textile Act rules would be laid down and growth and activity of the industry would be monitored, sources added. The proposed law would empower the textile ministry to monitor the implementation of the textile policy and to ensure accurate statistics of production capacity, exports and total number of textile units in the country.

Pakistan, Turkey ink 11 accords   [ top ]

The Nation, February 18, 2015
ISLAMABAD - Setting an ambitious target of taking the bilateral trade from existing $3 billion to $5-10 billion in the next few years, Pakistan and Turkey have agreed to work toward a free trade agreement as well as to enhance relations in all sectors.

Some 11 protocols and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the two countries aimed at giving boost to the existing relations in diverse areas.

Besides having one-on-one meeting at PM’s House, the premiers of both the brotherly Islamic states also chaired Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council wherein ways and means to give boost to their existing relations came under sharp focus.

Addressing a joint press stakeout at the conclusion of a series of meetings, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu said that both sides have agreed to give a central thrust to bilateral trade and investment cooperation.

“We are embarking on new trade liberalisation initiatives,” Sharif said in his remarks to the press as his Turkish counterpart agreed that both the countries have great potential in trade.

“What we need is more interaction, cooperation and a better atmosphere,” Turkish Prime Minister said in his remarks.

He said both the countries also needed a better and efficient transport network and desired greater frequency of flights of Pakistan International and Turkish Airlines between the two countries.

He also spoke of need of having more cooperation in railways, maritime and energy to promote trade.

Sharif said Pakistan-Turkey cooperation on security, defence and counter-terrorism remains robust.

They vowed to continue supporting each other in all areas and in keeping with their rich historical and cultural ties.

The Turkish Prime Minister announced an additional support of US 20 million dollars for internally displaced persons and the flood affected people.

The two leaders also discussed the situation in the region, particularly with reference to transition in Afghanistan and had an exclusive meeting, besides the one with their aides before inking 10 agreements and memoranda of understandings, along with a joint statement. Sharif said the MoUs and agreements signed between the two countries would further enhance bilateral cooperation in diverse fields including economic, social sectors, energy and trade.

“We have no doubt that Pakistan-Turkey relations will continue to grow from strength to strength - serving as a powerful factor for stability in the region and beyond,” he added.

He said Pakistan and Turkey were pivotal states, playing a vitally important role in their respective regions and crafting effective responses to challenges and opportunities.

The two leaders also headed the 4th session of the High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) between the two countries. Sharif said wide-ranging talks were held to reaffirm joint commitment to continue to transform special relationship into a strong strategic partnership.

He said HLSCC provides strategic focus and direction to their bilateral relationship - covering key areas like political cooperation, trade, finance and banking, energy, transport and communications, education, culture and tourism. Prime Minister Sharif said he was gratified with the outcome of their extensive talks and said it would place their relationship on an even higher pedestal.

“As indispensable partners, Pakistan and Turkey will continue to work closely making a substantial contribution to peace and development, at bilateral, regional and international levels.”

Turkish PM said the two countries had so far inked over 50 agreements and memoranda of understanding following the four High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) meetings.

Prime Sharif said he apprised Davutoglu of Pakistan’s endeavours for peace, stability and development in South Asia - as part of country’s vision of a ‘peaceful neighbourhood.’

“I highlighted the efforts Pakistan has made for a good-neighbourly relationship with India and our commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute.”

He also expressed the hope that Pakistan’s constructive approach would be reciprocated by the other side, in the interest of regional peace and strategic stability.

Prime Minister Davutoglu appreciated Pakistan’s initiatives for good relations with India and said stability in the sub-continent was essential for Asia.

“Turkey will always contribute to all these peace-oriented initiatives,” he said.

Prime Minister Sharif also highlighted the historic new phase Pakistan had commenced in relations with Afghanistan and the intensifying multi-dimensional cooperation on political, security, counter-terrorism and trade and economic issues. The Turkish Prime Minister said Pakistan and Turkey had a trilateral arrangement on Afghanistan and their foreign ministers would be meeting soon to discuss the developments, before the next summit to be held in Turkey.

Referring to the transition in Afghanistan, the Turkish Prime Minister noted the ‘excellent cooperation’ between Prime Minister Sharif and President Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan and said their high level strategic dialogue was progressing in a ‘fruitful manner’. Sharif said both the leaders met on Tuesday in the backdrop of the Paris attack and its aftermath. “I shared my deep anguish and unreserved condemnation of any attempts to vilify Islam and justify sacrilegious acts towards our Holy Prophet (PBUH) in the name of freedom of expression.”

Condemning terrorism in all forms, Prime Minister Sharif said Pakistan and Turkey had reaffirmed their resolve to work together to oppose any form of Islamophobia.

The Turkish Prime Minister said he also briefed Prime Minister Sharif of the situation in Syria, Iraq and the issue of Cyprus, besides other challenges it was confronting.

“I also discussed issue of terrorism and Islamophobia in different parts of the world,” and also mentioned the killings of Muslims in the United States, burning of mosques in Europe.”

“It is high time for all humanity to stand shoulder to shoulder against terrorism and against any type of racism, xenophobia and Islamophobic tendencies.”

He said Turkey and Pakistan were two leading democracies and shared the same objectives in international arena and would continue to support each other in efforts for international peace and stability.

Prime Minister Sharif in his opening remarks welcomed the Turkish prime minister and his delegation to their second home in Turkish – ‘Pakistan Hosh-gel-deniz’ meaning `Welcome to Pakistan’.

The prime minister said the relationship between Pakistan and Turkey was unique in inter-state ties, for the depth of mutual trust and abiding commitment.

Pakistan values its ties with EU: Nawaz EU delegation, UK minister meet PM   [ top ]

The News, February 18, 2015
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Tuesday said that Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with the European Union.

He said that Pakistan is deeply interested in its engagement with the European Parliament and emphasised that a mechanism for regular consultations between the two parliaments needs to be devised.

A delegation of European Parliament comprising Lars Gunbar Wigemark, Jean Lambort, Richard Howitt, Michael Galhar and Sajjad Karim called on prime minister at the PM House.The prime minister noted with satisfaction that GSP Plus Scheme has benefited Pakistan as our exports to EU have increased to around $1 billion.

To a question, he said that the Kashmir issue should be resolved in the light of UN resolutions. “We are committed to eradicating the menace of terrorism from our soil”, he added.The delegation members informed the prime minister that this was their first formal visit to Pakistan during present government’s tenure. They extended condolences over the tragic Peshawar incident.

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and foreign secretary were also present during the meeting.British Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General Francis Maude also called on Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif at the PM House.

Welcoming him the prime minister said that bilateral relations between Pakistan and UK are based on sound footing and rooted in shared history and strong Diaspora linkages.He expressed satisfaction on the overall upward trajectory of Pakistan-UK bilateral cooperation and said that frequent high-level exchanges and regular consultations between the two countries are a hallmark of this relationship. Talking about Pakistan’s civil service structure, norms and practices, he said that they are largely a continuation of those that the British introduced in the Sub-continent, but there is an urgent need to make the civil service more attuned and responsive to the present challenges and realities.

The prime minister said that a reform process has been initiated and he is personally supervising the deliberations being done on civil service reforms.

Francis Maude said that people’s expectations and demands from public service delivery are growing and with the help of modern technology lots of services can be put online due to which the size of civil service can be reduced. “The UK has reduced its civil service size by 21% during last five years,” he added.

Prime Minister Nawaz said that Pakistan has formulated the National Action Plan to effectively deal with the scourge of terrorism. Maude also conveyed best wishes of Prime Minister David Cameron.Ambassador of the UK to Pakistan Philip Barton was also present during the meeting.