The Express Tribune, July 31, 2016

ISLAMABADThe European Union has urged the Pakistani government to remove the 25% regulatory duty on import of milk powder, which has hurt the export of this product.

The demand was made by some EU ambassadors at a meeting with Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan in Islamabad last week.

The ambassador of EU Mission led the delegation, accompanied by ambassadors of France and Holland, to take up the issue with the Pakistani authorities.

The ambassadors argued that since Pakistan enjoys GSP Plus status in exporting its products to the EU, the government should avoid such curbs on EU products as well. They urged the commerce minister to take up the matter with the higher authorities.

The Pakistani side said that the duty was imposed to protect the local farming community. The government imposed 25% regulatory duty on the import of powdered milk and whey powder in the latest budget, resulting in a total duty of 45% (20% customs and 25% regulatory duty) on the import of these items.

This was done on the recommendation of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, which took the step after farmers demanded protection.

Sources said that after the categorical demand by the EU countries, the government is in a difficult situation about the issue as it cannot ignore the demand of the EU countries, particularly given the GSP Plus status.

At the same time, Pakistan’s agriculture and livestock sectors continue to show unimpressive growth, while forming a majority of the vote bank for the ruling PML-N.