Byline: Kristi Ellis

WASHINGTON — U.S.Trade Representative Robert Zoellick told a group of manufacturers Tuesday that the U.S. is considering extending duty-free benefits under the General System of Preferences to more products, such as carpets, as part of a trade concession package it is preparing for Pakistan.
Zoellick stopped short, however, of saying whether the U.S. is planning to suspend tariffs and quotas on a broad range of textile and apparel products, which is what the Pakistani government and the U.S. retail, import and manufacturing industry is seeking.
“We are working with Congress to see if we can adjust the system,” Zoellick told the group attending a National Association of Manufacturers breakfast meeting. “But we have to balance those with the political reality.”
U.S. officials have been considering legislation to eliminate duties, though the Bush administration has made no formal proposal.
“If [Zoellick] used carpets as an example, it is obviously one area he feels he can safely throw out there,” said Donna Rohrer, the U.S. spokeswoman for a group of Pakistani textile and apparel makers, adding that Pakistani companies and government officials believe the U.S. is considering a broad range of textile and apparel products.

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