islamabad - Deputy Assistant US Trade Representative Bill Jackson has said that Pakistan has opportunity to expand its exports to the United States substantially under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme.

Bill Jackson, during a presentation at the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told participants, "Pakistan can grow its duty-free exports to the United States even more. Pakistan exported $3.6 billion worth of goods to the United States in 2012, yet only 5.7pc of that amount took advantage of the duty-free treatment available under the GSP programme.  Pakistan therefore has the opportunity to expand its exports to the United States substantially under GSP. Senior US officials stated US imports from Pakistan under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) programme, which offers duty-free market access to the United States, surged by 49% in 2012, reaching $195 million that represents one of the largest increases among all major GSP beneficiary countries.

During a seminar for members of the Pakistani business community, senior officials from the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) explained how Pakistani exporters can further take advantage of duty-free access to the United States currently available for over 3,500 Pakistani products under the GSP programme. USTR identified all GSP-eligible products and highlighted how Pakistani exporters who are actively looking for potential U.S. buyers can use GSP to increase their exports to the United States.

Citing an example of how Pakistani exporters can enhance sales to the United States under GSP, Jackson noted that Pakistani exports of gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry to the United States showed impressive growth of 300% in 2012 - totaling $32.4 million - following a previous training session that raised awareness about available market access. Gemstones, precious metals, and jewelry are among the many items eligible for duty-free treatment under the GSP programme.

Jackson advised Pakistani exporters of GSP-eligible products that there are several ways to make the most of the available tariff advantage. "First, consider using GSP as a marketing tool with US buyers.

US importers may be willing to buy new products from Pakistan or buy more of a particular product if they know that the item is eligible for duty-free treatment under GSP.

 Many US importers are also unaware that a product may be eligible.  As a result, they often pay duties on these products even when they don't need to do so," he emphasized.

Among the GSP-eligible products from Pakistan on which duties were unnecessarily paid in 2012 were leather sports gloves, mittens, and mitts; certain non-cotton pillows, cushions, and similar furnishings; certain athletic articles and equipment; and miscellaneous iron and steel articles. Pakistani exporters may also wish to examine whether there are GSP-eligible products that they are currently sending to markets other than the United States.

Pakistani exporters in major business hubs including Karachi, Islamabad, Gujrat, Peshawar, Faisalabad, and Sialkot attended this live video-conference presentation by USTR at the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan in Karachi and at many chambers of commerce and industry across Pakistan. The broadcast was part of the U.S. Mission to Pakistan's entrepreneurship program, Khushali ka safar - a Journey to Prosperity, which supports Pakistani entrepreneurs.

This initiative is just one part of a comprehensive US economic growth assistance program which includes expanding irrigation by more than 200,000 acres near the Gomal Zam and Satpara dams; constructing more than 1,000 km of roads to connect communities and facilitate trade; modernizing dairy farms in Punjab; and launching private equity investment funds to fuel the growth of small and medium businesses.