Canadian government is mulling a preferential trade partner status for Pakistan, which would boost the country’s current exports of minuscule $700 million a year to North American country, officials said on Monday.
The officials said a not-for-profit organisation Trade Facilitation Office (TFO) of Canada tentatively approved Pakistan’s inclusion into Market Access and Capacity Building Project 2019-23, designed to encourage exports from developing economies under preferential tariffs.
In 2017, Pakistan was the Canada’s 29th largest export destination for merchandise, with bilateral trade reaching $1.04 billion. Canadian exports to Pakistan totaled $693 million and imports from Pakistan totaled $351 million. In July-April 2018, exports to Canada stood at $102.2 million, up 4.6 percent while total imports from Canada clocked in at $169.5 million during the period under review.
Textiles, leather and food products accounted for 74 percent of Pakistan’s exports to Canada. Non-textile exports are also growing. The Canadian biggest export products, oil seeds and lentils, remained subdued due to uncertainty over the phytosanitary conditions applied by Department of Plant Protection in Pakistan.
Officials said Canadian TFO forwarded its recommendations to Global Affairs Canada – a government department that manages the country’s diplomatic and consular relations – for final decision, which is expected by the end of 2018.
TFO Canada is currently implementing the Canadian Market Access and Capacity Building Services program with funds provided by Global Affairs Canada.
“Inclusion in the program would give a much needed boost to country’s exports to Canada,” an official said.
High Commission of Canada in Pakistan said the priorities for the bilateral international assistance program are based on Pakistan’s development priorities and Canada’s comparative advantage in line with its feminist international assistance policy.
Canada’s development assistance to Pakistan also includes multilateral, partnership and humanitarian programming. Additionally, project funding in Pakistan has come from the International Development Research Centre. The Canada fund for local initiatives provide direct funding assistance for small projects to local non-government organisations (NGOs) and, in exceptional cases, international NGOs and government institutions.