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ISLAMABAD: The government considers withdrawing 10 per cent regulatory duty on import of fine count yarn, mostly used in the readymade garments, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said on Wednesday.

However, the regulatory duty would remain on coarse-yarn imports to the benefit of local manufacturers, the minister told a select group of journalists.

The real impact of the regulatory duty is on small and medium sectors as there is one-window facility available to big exporters to import both coarse and fine yarn under the duty and tax remission for export (DTRE) scheme.

Answering a question, he said Pakistan’s protectionist mindset was an obstacle to its integration in global value chain.

The country was importing cotton because of low domestic production this year, he said.

Regarding trade diplomacy, the minister said his government was working to get more market access for Pakistani products.

Pakistan has almost revised the free-trade agreement (FTA) with China. However, the issue would be resolved at a highest level for implementation, he said.

On FTA with Turkey, the minister said a framework would be signed next month.

The minister said FTA with Thailand would ensure market access for Pakistani products, especially textile. “We want to use Bangkok as a gateway to Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market.”

He said the commerce ministry was also in contact with Iran to find out the exact status of banking channels between the two countries. As of today, banking channels were not revived, he said. However, he hoped that they would be revived in a few days.

Currently, Pakistan was not pursuing any initiative to revive trade talks with India, the minister said.

As for the United States, the minister said there was no issue to be taken up with Washington regarding trade relations. The US has already revived GSP scheme for Pakistan, he added.

Asked about the Rs13per kg subsidy on sugar exports, the minister said it was allowed to help millers clear farmers’ bills.

He said Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to revise the transit trade treaty. Both sides agreed to include TIR Convention as part of the treaty, he said, adding that the remaining few issues would be finalised in the next couple of meetings.

Asked about the reasons behind falling exports, the minister said demand from major buyers, especially China, has dropped significantly.

He said the newly selected trade officers would be posted in three months.

Published in Dawn, February 25th, 2016