Islamabad: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani has directed the Ministry of Commerce to focus on the regional countries like Iran, Oman, GCC countries, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, China, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to increase exports and realize the immense trade potential that would definitely prove as a game changer in terms of boosting the exports.
The Prime Minister said that he would soon hold a Conference of the Ambassadors and the Trade Officers with a view to give them the task of pursuing Trade Diplomacy for increasing exports in the countries of their accreditation. He said that their performance would be evaluated on the basis of their success in enhancing the trade relations and exports at the same time.
The Prime Minister said this during the presentation of Trade Policy (2011-12) by the Ministry of Commerce here today at the PM House in which Minister for Commerce, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Minister of Finance, Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission, Secretary Finance, Secretary Commerce, Chairman Trading Authority and other senior officials of the respective Ministries participated.
Secretary Commerce briefed the meeting that exports during 2011-12 would touch an all-time-high benchmark of $26 billion and the Ministry is geared towards seeking better market access, addressing tariff and non-tariff issues and also encountering tariff barriers created by the regional and bilateral arrangements for third parties.
The Secretary said that agreements had been concluded with regard to Pakistan-Sri Lanka FTA, SAARC Free Trade Area (SFTA), Pakistan-China FTA, Pakistan-Malaysia FTA, Pakistan-Mauritius PTA and Pakistan-Iran PTA. Agreements being negotiated are between Pakistan-China second phase, Pakistan-Singapore FTA, Pakistan-Indonesia PTA, Pakistan-Turkey PTA, Pakistan-Sri Lanka Comprehensive Economic Partnership, Pakistan-GCC FTA, Pakistan-Mauritius FTA, D-8, OIC PTA and ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA). Other initiatives for greater market access in Asia Pacific are in progress, the Secretary added.
The Secretary disclosed that functioning FTA with China had made her (China) as one of the biggest trading partners of Pakistan and the total number of business delegations during the last few years has increased markedly. Trade with Afghanistan, he said, has been registering upward trend in favour of Pakistan.
The Secretary was hopeful about the success of the current Trade Policy despite the global economic situation, market access problems, energy deficiency in the country, law and orders situation and the scourge of terrorism.
The Ministry of Commerce emphasized the export of human resource and for that, the Secretary said, it is planning to chalk out a comprehensive plan in collaboration with Technical Education and Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA), Punjab and Sindh as well as other provinces to train the manpower required in GCC, EU and the USA.
For this, the Trade Missions of the Ministry are being assigned to work on proactive basis in consultation with the Overseas Employment Corporation and Bureau of Emigration and Overseas Employment.
Minister for Finance, Dr. Hafeez Shaikh, asked the Ministry to strive to diversify the export base because traditional approach may not work all the time in the highly competitive international market. He said that structural changes must be brought about keeping in view the dynamism of international market and also when USA’s and European economies are on the slippery ground.
He was also in favour of less interference of the government in the export transactions because official micro-management of the economy has always produced results, which are contrary to the economies all over the world.
Deputy Chairman Planning Commission Dr. Nadeem-ul-Haq highlighted the importance of formulating the domestic trade policy because internal dynamics of trade have direct bearings on the external trade. The strength of the internal trade, he said, will give the requisite boost to our efforts to increase exports.
He said that we should not neglect this area and ironically we do not have any policy to facilitate the domestic trade. He said that openness, competitiveness, regular evaluation and less official control over the business should be the fulcrum of our economic development strategy and economic activity.
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