Pakistan has hosted its first Free Trade Agreement negotiations with Bangladeshi officials since 2002.

Visiting Bangladeshi adviser on foreign affairs, Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, and his Pakistani counterpart, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, have discussed an Early Harvest Program (EHP) leading to an FTA.

The stumbling block is that the two countries cannot resolve their differences over rules of origin and phase-out period.

Pakistan has been a major supplier of raw material to the growing garment industry in Bangladesh, and last year exported US$223m textile and leather products to Bangladesh including cotton fabrics, cotton yarn, footwear, and leather products.

By Ahmed Abdullah.