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RAWALPINDI: The Commerce Minister, Mr Ghulam Faruque, said today [May 16] that the British decision to join the Common Market “makes us pause and think” and it is a step which necessitates that “we will have to work with still greater vigour to further diversify our exports and the sources of our imports”.

Mr Faruque’s remarks came in his inaugural speech at the Advisory Committee meeting of the Ministry of Commerce. Trade and industry are represented in the committee to advise the Government on its commercial policy.

Mr Faruque said: “We have traditional trade ties with the United Kingdom. This relationship is rooted in history and has had special significance; it devolved mutual obligations on both sides.” He said, “This development may in some way [affect] our trade with her (U.K.) or even retention of our trade with her at the existing levels in future.” At stake are Pakistan’s Rs 40 crore a year exports to Britain which enter U.K. at almost a nil tariff rate.

The Commerce Minister, who also commented on the current tariff cutting talks in Geneva — the Kennedy Round — said: “We could not hope for substantial results from them in the near future.” Mr Faruque said he would not place much hope on efforts, at the level of General Agreement on Trade and Tariff, for expanding trade among less developed countries themselves even though special preferences are arranged. “If a country has a chronic imbalance of trade with us, we have to take corrective measures. The countries which are anxious to buy from us, we have to reciprocate and buy from them,” he added.

Highlighting the Government’s efforts to diversify foreign trade, Mr Faruque said he gave statistics showing the trade volume between Pakistan and Socialist countries, including the USSR and People’s China, which rose from Rs 38.9 crores in 1963-64 to Rs 61.5 crores. The July-December 1966 trade figure sharply rose to Rs 43.2 crores, compared to Rs 25.9 crores in the corresponding period last year. — Agencies

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2017