ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce will unveil the three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-2015 next month with a string of development initiatives to boost exports above $30 billion.
“The ministry is working on the new trade policy to give the country’s exports a boost”, the newly-appointed Secretary Commerce, Munir Qureshi, told Dawn on Monday.
Pakistan’s first ever three-year trade policy framework (STPF) 2009-12 came to an end on June 30, 2012. The policy was in place since July 2009.
Normally, the trade policy is unveiled in mid-July but this year it has been delayed till August.
“I have asked the concern department to speed up work on the new STPF and get the policy order ready for the next month”, Mr Qureshi said.
Mr Qureshi was appointed as new secretary commerce on July 6 and has replaced Zafar Mahmood. Mr Mahmood was earlier transferred and posted as secretary Water and Power Ministry.
The first STPF largely remained unimplemented during the last three years because of lack of availability of funds. “The ministry has projected Rs35 billion for the implementation of all initiatives announced in the policy document but in reality Rs2 to 3 billion were released by the finance ministry”, an official source said.
As a result of shortage of funding, the source said, most of the development initiatives remained unresolved during the last three years. And 70-80 per cent initiatives announced in the trade policy were never implemented, the source added.
However, the new secretary commerce says that he had asked the relevant people to focus on effective policy that will be laden with measures to help local manufacturers to improve their capacity building like certification etc and export support subsidies schemes for enhancing exports.
Expert say that the commerce ministry as well as its implementing arm—Trade Development Authority of Pakistan lack the human resource capacity to oversea and monitor implementation of initiatives announced in the trade policy.
Ahead of the announcement of new subsidies schemes, a performance based audit needs to be held to determine the outcome of the schemes in terms of export enhancement or promotion. For example, the ministry of commerce had doled out Rs45-50 billion to textile and clothing sector as cash subsidy between 2005-08.
Mr Qureshi said the new policy will mostly focus on export promotion. He said there was no restriction on the import side except the negative list with India.
Pakistan’s import regime is more liberal in the region, he said, adding, “The ministry will still work on customs tariff side to further facilitate the import regime.”
According to the annual plan 2012-13, the government has projected an export target of $25.812 billion for the year 2012-13 as against $23.641 billion, showing an increase of only nine per cent.
For the year 2012-13, the export proceeds remained behind the target of $25 billion projected for the same year by almost $1.4 billion by end June 2012.