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Business & Finance

US Senators table bill to develop ROZs in Pakistan, Afghanistan border region

  • The bill would establish Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions to allow certain products from these areas to enter the U.S. duty-free, read a statement.
Published May 1, 2021
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US Senators have tabled a bill in the Senate, which could generate economic benefits for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The bill titled ‘Pakistan-Afghanistan Economic Development Act’ “would serve as an important instrument to support that outcome. The bill would establish Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) in Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border regions to allow certain products from these areas to enter the U.S. duty-free,” read a statement.

The bill outlines objectives that fostering trade with the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region will help bolster economic development and improve the livelihoods of local populations. These efforts further U.S. diplomatic objectives in the region by contributing to political stability and addressing the root causes of violent extremism.

Furthermore, expanding trade with Pakistan will strengthen ties with a key strategic partner and enhance economic development in a region important to U.S. interests.

However, in order for an area to be designated as a ROZ, Pakistan and Afghanistan must fulfill a number of conditions: including market-based economy; anti-corruption measures; eliminating barriers to U.S. trade and investment; and increasing availability of health care and educational opportunities.

No o activities that harm U.S. national security interests or support for international terrorism. There should be an elimination of human rights abuses and protection of core labor standards.

Under the bill, the US President will determine which products, from a specified list of textile and apparel goods, will be eligible for duty-free treatment. These products represent a range of goods commonly imported to the U.S. from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The US President must determine that Pakistan and Afghanistan have adopted laws to prevent unlawful transshipment and allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) access to investigate allegations of unlawful transshipment. Violating transshipment rules will result in a 5-year denial of duty-free shipment for articles of the violator.

The bill lays out a program and reporting requirements for technical assistance and capacity building, focusing on providing labor protections to workers in ROZs. It also requires Pakistan and Afghanistan to designate a labor official to monitor compliance and labor standards of registered textile firms.

The US President will have the authority to withdraw, suspend, or limit the application of the ROZs if conditions on the ground do not support U.S. national interests.

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