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Make trade part of Pakistan strategy: US business

The top US business lobby on Tuesday urged a cut in US tariffs on Pakistani textiles, saying that trade would be a valuable part of the new US strategy to bring stability to the nuclear-armed nation.

world Updated: Mar 25, 2009 16:22 IST

The top US business lobby on Tuesday urged a cut in US tariffs on Pakistani textiles, saying that trade would be a valuable part of the new US strategy to bring stability to the nuclear-armed nation.

The US Chamber of Commerce and US-Pakistan Business Council issued a report welcoming President Barack Obama's focus on rooting out extremism in Pakistan and neighboring Afghanistan and urging an emphasis on trade.

"Stronger and more stable economic relations between the United States and Pakistan would help advance America's overarching geopolitical goals in South Asia," the business groups said in the report.

The United States is the largest investor and market for Pakistan, which in November required a 7.6-billion-dollar emergency credit line from the International Monetary Fund as world economic crisis hit the nation.

The business groups urged a review of US tariff policy on Pakistan, saying that the duties on Pakistani textiles were higher than those from other key producers.

The report also backed a proposal by two lawmakers, Senator Maria Cantwell and Congressman Chris Van Hollen, to make certain products made in the impoverished Afghan-Pakistan border regions duty-free.

In the long term, the United States should consider entering negotiations on a free-trade agreement with Pakistan, the groups said.

"Although the United States stresses the importance of economic growth in Pakistan, American trade policy fails to provide increased market access for Pakistani products in the United States," the report said.

Total trade between the countries has shot up to 5.6 billion dollars last year from 2.6 billion dollars in 2001, the year Pakistan turned overnight into a pivotal US ally following the September 11 terrorist attacks.