A bill offering 15 year duty-free market access into the US to products from specific areas of Pakistan was introduced in the US Congress last month under the Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (ROZs) scheme.

A significant number of textile products made in designated areas would be eligible, including cotton and man-made fibre dresses and coats.

The bill will remain effective until 30 September 2023, having first been announced by President Bush in March 2006 during his visit to Pakistan to create employment opportunities in border areas.

The ROZs will comprise large parts of the country, namely the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), earthquake affected areas of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and a hundred mile belt along the Balochistan province border with Afghanistan.

The initiative is expected to attract a sizeable foreign investment, especially in the clothing sector, as it provides a long-term investment opportunity to investors.

By Ahmed Abdullah.