FTA Negotiations With Turkey Stall As Turks Won’t Budge

Being a businessman or someone claiming to be from a business family one would expect Nawaz Sharif to make deals that are excellent for Pakistani businessmen but the kind of decisions he is making that doesn’t look the case.

Pakistan and Turkey have been holding talks for a Free Trade Agreement between the two countries. The talks have been going on for months and after the 7th round of talks, no agreement has been reached and no further date has been set to meet again.

The problem it seems is that Turkey wants a good deal but isn’t willing to offer the same to us. Turkey is not letting our textile sector, our biggest exporting sector, enter its market. It is only willing to reduce duty by 25% in five years and remaining 75% to be revised after that.

Basically, they are not willing to open their markets for our main export or any export. The rules of origin offered by the Turkish side for Pakistani products are more restrictive than those applied by the EU!! How friendly, indeed.

That is despite Pakistan’s generous favors including the opening of the auto sector for Turkish companies. Nawaz government went out of its way to facilitate Turkish businessmen but his counterpart doesn’t seem too eager.

The news that Pakistan offered to open up its auto sector to Turkish companies has outraged the Association of Automotive parts and accessories Manufacturers, which represents more than 300 vendors.

They termed this offer “irrational” and said that when the market is set to grow around 30% government is stabbing the local manufacturers in the back by giving such over the top sweet deals to foreign competitors.

Trade should spur national economic growth but so far the FTAs do not appear to be connected to the economic growth agenda. Our negotiations are so bad that in our FTA with China many of Pakistan’s leading exportable items were given lower concessions than our competitors from ASEAN.

This actually worsened our competitive position in the region. FTAs being negotiated by the Nawaz Government are a disaster for our economy. They are hurting manufacturing instead of benefiting them.

Nawaz’s understanding of foreign relations is fundamentally flawed. He cultivates personal relationships, where personal favors by foreign heads of state matter more to him than those to the country he rules and the foreigners understand this and have taken full advantage of this.

These deals expose another lie of Sharifs, that of being very successful businessmen and of belonging to a family which has been in business for centuries. The only thing Nawaz & co. can do is lie.


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